I don't think Arnold Rüütel is a bad president. But I do think that the majority of Estonians would prefer Toomas Hendrik Ilves this year. He out polls everybody. He is the popular favorite. And in a democracy, don't you owe it to your constituents to give them what they want?
As I was saying about Savisaar, I've been wrong about him. I used to think he was a shrewd, calculating politician looking to build his own party. And yeah, sure Estonia needs a Center Left to balance out its young, rightwing turks. But Ilves is a social democrat. He is neither young nor rightwing. His leadership, backed by the people and the majority of parliament (save about one guaranteed vote) should be a no-brainer in this election. But in Savisaar world, the popular voice is his voice. The popular interest is his interest. It's like the rest of Estonia doesn't exist.
The Baltic Times didn't mince its words in this week's lead editorial -
Once again, “Rhino” Savisaar, who conducted parallel negotiations with leading parties to shortlist presidential candidates, has shown that he is less interested in the development of Estonia than with his own selfish, partisan interests. (Psychologically this puts him in the same odious league as Latvia’s Aivars Lembergs and Lithuania’s Viktor Uspaskich.) As always, he wanted to show himself the kingmaker, that he is the court of final appeal. But for many Estonians, and non-Estonians too, he has come off looking like the narrow-minded fool.
People are mad about it, sure. But is Rüütel's election really sealed? In 2001, Rüütel could only muster a bare majority in the Valimiskogu (the 367 member electoral college). That is, he won with 50.1 percent of the vote. I can find no link that tells me who is a member of the Valimiskogu. That in itself is why it is bad and undemocratic - it answers to nobody. They can vote for a candidate - Rüütel - that would lose badly in a popular vote, and still hang onto their jobs.
But still, if he won with only 50 percent in 2001, why does everyone think that he'll scrape by five years later?