Two party chairs quit after parties fail at polls

  • 2002-11-07
  • Aleksei Gunter

Two well-known politicians and chairmen of prominent Estonian parties resigned their positions last month due to poor results in local elections.

It was the first time in the country's recent history when party leaders resigned because of disappointing election results.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves announced on Oct. 23, just two days after the final results were published, that he will leave the post of the Moderates' chairman.

"First, the elections have proved the Moderates' message did not reach the people," wrote Ilves in his resignation letter, adding that some have blamed him as being the wrong person to bring the message to the masses.

Estonian society needs a Moderates' party that pays attention to social welfare problems, Ilves noted.

"Estonia has never had a government as right-wing as the current one, and the country needs a social-democratic party with European values," stated Ilves. "The Moderates need a leader who could explain those ideas to the people better than I could."

Ilves also said he was going to stay in Estonia and pursue the ideals important for the party and himself.

Mart Laar, chairman of Pro Patria Union, followed Ilves' example three days later. Tunne Kelam, vice-chair for the party, will substitute for Laar until the congress, scheduled for Dec. 7.

"Everyone must be responsible for leaving something uncompleted. But I am neither leaving the political arena nor Pro Patria Union. I will run for the next general elections and will definitely become an MP again," said Laar.

Pro Patria Union representatives stated they would not comment on possible chair candidates until the December congress. The party received only 6.8 percent of the Tallinn vote, not enough to win an allotment of council seats.

The Tallinn city council will be dominated by the Center Party, the Reform Party and Res Publica.

The Moderates failed to overcome the five percent barrier in the capital, and received just a handful of seats throughout the country. Pro Patria, however, did relatively well in Tartu getting nine out of 49 seats on the council.