Toots was appointed head of the Center Party council by Valga’s branch about a month and a half ago. Toots lost in the final ballot by a single vote, to former environment minister Tõnis Mölder.
“After that, I started getting a lot of calls from regional offices asking if I wanted to be a candidate for party chairman,” said Toots, who has spent the past two weeks traveling around Estonia.
Initially, he considered himself a member of the board of directors. As of Friday night, Toots estimated that at least 19 regions had offered him the job.
However, Toots was also nominated for the presidency by the districts of Mustamäe, Saaremaa and Tartu. Jüri Ratas was nominated by Mustamäe and Saaremaa at the same time.
Toots reiterated that he is not running against anyone. Nonetheless, he said he had several important messages. “As far as the Center goes, we have to be crystal clear on what we’re fighting for. It’s gotten a little blurry,” Toots said.
Tartu board member: Things got sloppy
The presidential candidate promised to give more details on his vision for the party’s path at the Center Party Congress on August 13 in his hometown of Tartu.
Mihkel Undrest, the head of the Saaremaa regional office, is also eagerly awaiting Toots’ speech. Undrest said it is always better in a democratic society to have multiple candidates.
Lauri Laats, the District Chief of Mustamäe, provided the same reasoning for simultaneously appointing Toots and Ratas.
Tartu district board member Olev Raju agrees with Toots that the Center Party should be more specific in formulating its goals.
Raju, an economist, said, “More than half of the party members are elderly people. However, the basic problems of the elderly, such as old people’s homes, etc., are not properly addressed.” .
The Tartu region has appointed Jaan Toots as chairman only, Raju said. “The Tartu region is unhappy with the current direction of the party.”
“A lot of things are handled carelessly,” Raju added.
The fact that Jüri Ratas has not visited the regional offices for a long time is detrimental to the Tartu community. “Somehow it has become a government-Toompea-Tallinn affair,” Raju added. Jaan Toots, meanwhile, attended the most important party events and conferences in Põlva, Võru, Valga and Tartumaa. The southern and south-eastern regions of Estonia are of particular interest to him.
Toots has plans for the Center radio station
“Already two years ago, I hoped that we could establish an online Tartu TV which would transmit at least one hour a week,” said Toots, adding that he would not give up on his dream of establishing a town hall in Tartu.
Toots said the Tartu TV discussion was not just a pre-election speech, that the party needed an outlet: “We don’t have a newspaper or radio, so our supporters only know us from the press. general.”
Due to financial constraints, the iconic party weekly Kesknädal (Estonian for “Midweek”) is published online only. The return of the newspaper should not be postponed indefinitely. Also, while installing a TV is expensive, running a radio station is relatively inexpensive.
“I often give the example of the radio station of EKRE; it is broadcast every Sunday, then the news discusses it and comments on it during the following weekdays. I think the Center Party could benefit from a similar solution,” Toots said.
Coalition Breakups Bring Much Confusion
Raju and Toots said some party members wanted better communication.
Not just on the radio or in the newspapers, but also in person, to address issues directly. Many people are perplexed by recent national decisions, for example.
“Was it the right decision to leave the EKRE government at that time? Raju asked. “25 years ago, I was told very clearly that it is impossible to govern with the Reform Party.”
In addition, the breakup of the ruling coalition with EKRE and Isamaa, Toots said, has worried many Center Party members.
“If the government was planning to resign, it should have been discussed with the executive council and a collegiate decision should have been taken,” Toots said, adding that executive council members were also concerned about how the decision was made. .
Toots praised Jüri Ratas’ ability to form effective coalitions, stating, “Jüri Ratas possesses a very important trait: he is adept at coalition building.” It’s another challenge to figure out how to get out of it, Toots added.
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