Estonia: Estonian Centre Party embroiled in internal power struggle

The Estonian Centre Party (Keskerakond) has a rift in its leadership, party chairman Jüri Ratas stated, BNS reports. Earlier, the party’s governing board voted to return a donation of EUR 300,000 from local businessman Parvel Pruunsild. Ratas had insisted that the donation would have helped the party finance its operations. However, the party’s deputy chairman, Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart, proposed that the donation be returned, which the board agreed to do with a vote of 9 to 7. Speaking in an interview with ERR, Kõlvart noted that "money was also a political instrument." He characterised the disagreements in the party leadership as "hysteria."

Ratas said that the decision of the party’s governing board was a sign of an "internal power struggle" in the party leadership. Ratas invited the party board, parliamentary group, regional leadership, and council members to an extraordinary meeting in Tallinn on 7 July 2023 to discuss the future of the party. Jaanus Karilaid, chief whip of the Centre Party’s parliamentary group, said that the party needed to convene an emergency congress as soon as possible to decide on the way forward, ERR reports. Kõlvart’s faction may now have a 10-7 majority on the board, ERR says. Ratas is said to represent the party’s "Estonian wing" and Kõlvart its "Russian wing."