[lg policy] Russian Minority Party Quizzes Presidential Challenger
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Fri Jul 29 17:25:47 UTC 2011
Russian Minority Party Quizzes Presidential Challenger
Published: 26.07.2011 13:39
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The Russian Party in Estonia has formally sent a list of questions to
presidential candidate Indrek Tarand to poll his views on issues
which, according to the group, are of interest to the majority of the
country's Russian-speaking population.
Party members want to know the challenger's position on topics such as
citizenship, language policy, the future of Russian-language schools
and relations with the Russian Federation. They're also asking for
Tarand's views on the unrest that followed the relocation of the
Bronze Soldier statue in Tallinn in 2007, an incident that highlighted
lingering ethnic divisions within the society.
"For Russian residents of our country these topics are of great
importance, so Indrek Tarand's answers will help determine the level
of support for the candidate among the Russian population, including
that of the Russian Party in Estonia," said RPE Chairman Stanislav
Cherepanov as reported by rus.err.ee.
Though the RPE has almost no backing among the voting public, with the
vast majority of politically active ethnic Russians supporting more
mainstream parties, its questions could bring integration-related
topics into the pre-election debate.
Cherepanov said that incumbent candidate, President Toomas Hendrik
Ilves, had not publicly clarified his views on these issues during his
presidency and that the opinions of his rival remain an unknown
"Tarand's position is also of interest to the Russian residents of
Estonia because he was put forward as a candidate by the Centre Party,
which traditionally claims its readiness to represent the interests of
the country's Russian-speaking voters," he said.
Tarand's backing by the Centre Party, despite his clear warning that
he made no promises to go along with any of its policies, seems to
have been enough to gain him some popularity in the minority
The results of an ERR-commissioned poll published in early July showed
that among non-ethnic Estonians, Tarand registered 25 percent support
against Ilves's 21 percent. Among ethnic Estonians, by contrast, 62
percent expressed support for Ilves, with just 22 percent backing
The importance of these numbers is tempered, however, by the fact that
the president is not chosen by popular vote.
The first round of the presidential elections will be held in
Parliament on August 29. If MPs fail to elect a president with a
two-thirds majority vote, a special electoral council of municipal
delegates and MPs will be called to complete the task.
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