Joel Alas and BNS
* With the Center Party likely to be relegated to the opposition benches, party leader Edgar Savisaar appears eager to find a key position to occupy his time. He is now set to return to the post of mayor of Tallinn.
The Center Party holds outright power in the Tallinn City Government. The current mayor Juri Ratas ran as a candidate in the recent parliamentary elections and collected a large number of votes. On March 23 Ratas announced he intended to take his seat in parliament, clearing the way for the Centrists to appoint his replacement.
Savisaar, meanwhile, is unlikely to be content serving as leader of the opposition party in parliament, but has chosen to wield power in City Hall, which controls development within the capital. Savisaar said that he had promised the people of Tallinn he would serve them as mayor before the 2005 local elections.
"I promised to become mayor but warned that it would take time,” he said, quoted by BNS. “I will now keep my earlier promise but I also intend to keep my promise and take part in leading the Estonian state. I believe that after some time, and perhaps sooner than anyone can presume, the Center Party will again be in the government and the chairman of the party will not be left aside.”
However, the Social Democrats have viewed the switch cynically. Jaak Juske, chairmain of the Tallinn Social Democrats, said the Centrists were fearful of losing power in the city following the results of the national elections.
“As a result the chairman of the party in person is being installed to keep order and wield power in the main foothold of the Center Party. Ratas would simply not have coped with that decisive role," Juske told BNS. He said it was a public secret that Savisaar had been leading Tallinn all along, using Ratas as a “puppet mayor who obediently carried out orders issued from (Savisaar’s) office.”
Ratas himself expressed a desire to continue serving as mayor, but said the interests of the party came first.
“It is one thing what a person sees inside himself and another thing what the party can see. The party can see a more integral picture and we also have to bear in mind that there will be local elections in two and a half years,” Ratas said.