On May 23, Päevaleht published a story indicating that up against Edgar Savisaar or Arnold Rüütel, Toomas Hendrik Ilves would still win the presidency. One should keep in mind that at that time, neither Rüütel nor Savisaar had been publicly selected by either of their parties
Yesterday, Arnold Rüütel, Rahvaliit's strongest candidate and the 78-year-old sitting president, announced that he would represent Estonia in a second term if no other candidate could be agreed upon. Savisaar said that he would not seek the presidency if Rüütel was in the running.
Villu Reiljan, the Minister of the Environment, put on his poliical face this morning on ETV's Terevision program by saying that Rahvaliit could not support Ilves - who was born in Stockholm to Estonian refugees in 1953 and grew up in North America - because Ilves doesn't know Estonia.
However, Päevaleht released a poll showing that even up against Arnold Rüütel, who is still quite popular in Estonia, Ilves had more support among the public - be he born in Viljandi or Stockholm.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves is the preferred contender for Estonia’s highest office, according to a poll by Turu-uuringute published in Eesti Paevaleht. 36 per cent of respondents would like the Social Democratic Party (SDE) member to become president.
Current president Arnold Rüütel of the Estonian People’s Union (ERL) is second with 24 per cent, followed by Edgar Savisaar of the Estonian Centre Party (KESK) with 11 per cent.
Hmm. Savisaar's 11 percent plus Rüütel's 24 percent equals a combined 35 percent. That means that Ilves could face a tough battle against Rüütel. It also means that 30 percent of the Estonian public didn't know who to vote for.
The two sides seem locked in their positions. Interestingly, it is the two most right wing parties in Estonia - Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit and Reformierakond - that have pledged their support for Ilves - a social democrat.
Yesterday, Taavi Veskimägi (who is nearly 50 years younger than Rüütel) of the Isamaa-Res Publica union said that a vote for Rüütel would move Estonia backwards.
"Meie arvates Rahvaliidu presidendikandidaat Arnold Rüütel neid väärtusi ei esinda ning pigem sümboliseerib Eesti minevikku kui tulevikku," ütles Veskimägi. "Tema tagasivalimine presidendiks on Eesti jaoks halb valik."
"In our opinion, Rahvaliit's presidential candidate Arnold Rüütel...is more a symbol of Estonia's past than future," Veskimägi said (approximately). "To choose him to go back to the presidency would be a bad choice."