Search

 

Cablegate: What Makes Toomas Hendrik Run?

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTL #0582/01 1701135
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191135Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8757

UNCLAS TALLINN 000582

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NOFORN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV EN
SUBJECT: WHAT MAKES TOOMAS HENDRIK RUN?


1. (SBU) Summary. Former Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik
Ilves is one of the front runners as we approach
August's first round of elections for president, a job
Ilves tells us he does not want. Openly disdainful of
incumbent Arnold Ruutel, Ilves explained that he had to
run because he could not stomach the prospect of five
more years of Ruutel and his "kolkhoz manager
mentality." Ilves expects the election to go to the
Electoral College, where he believes he stands a 50/50
chance of winning. End Summary.

I DON'T WANT TO, BUT I HAVE TO
------------------------------

2. (SBU) In typically brassy fashion, former Foreign
Minister and current presidential candidate Toomas
Hendrik Ilves marched into his meeting with us and began
by saying: "So, I guess you want to know why I want this
job. Well, I don't want it." Ilves explained that
twice before he has sacrificed a comfortable life to
serve his country -- once when he gave up his position as
head of RFE's Estonian Section to become Ambassador to
Washington, and again when he agreed to become Foreign
Minister. Ilves claimed to have no interest in
committing himself to a life of near poverty for his
country a third time, especially for a job that has as
little power as that of Estonia?s president.

3. (SBU) So, why is Ilves running? Simple. He
disdains incumbent President Arnold Ruutel, saying that
during Ruutel's tenure Estonia has effectively lacked a
President. And, Ilves believes, he is the only person
who has a chance of ousting Ruutel. He portrays a
Ruutel-Ilves showdown as a battle between entrenched old
regime-era figures with their "kolkhoz manager
mentality" and eastward-orientation and Estonia's
younger, westward-oriented generation.

HOW IT WILL PLAY OUT
--------------------

4. (SBU) Ilves thinks he is the only candidate who
stands a chance of uniting enough of Estonia's political
establishment to beat Ruutel. This is not because the
political elite particularly like him. It is, instead,
because Ilves is the only potential candidate popular
enough with the public to have a real chance of beating
Ruutel.

5. (SBU) As Ilves sees it, the election will not be
decided in the parliament, even though he claims to have
the two-thirds support among deputies required for
election. Since they know this, Ilves believes the
leaders of the People's Union (Ruutel's old party) and
the Center Party will not allow their deputies to
participate in the secret ballot election. This will
leave Ilves three votes short of the required two-thirds
and throw the election into the Electoral College, where
the parliamentary deputies will be joined by a large
number of local officials.

6. (SBU) Ilves shrugs off press reports that People?s
Union and Center are actively recruiting support among
these local officials with promises of budgetary
largesse. (Both parties are members of the governing
coalition, whereas Ilves? Social Democratic Party is in
opposition.) In the end, Ilves believes local officials
with an eye to their own political futures will vote the
way they think will be most popular back at home. He
believes he holds the trump there given what he claims
is his greater popularity even in rural areas where
Ruutel is supposed to be strongest. (NOTE: Recent
polls asking voter preferences in a Ruutel-Ilves contest
show a jump in support for Ruutel since he announced he
would run for re-election. This jump has eaten away
most, but not all, of Ilves' lead in earlier polls.)
Taking all this into account, Ilves believes he stands a
50/50 chance of winning in the Electoral College.

AND WHAT IF HE DOES?
--------------------

7. (SBU) So what will Ilves do if he does wind up with
this job he says he doesn't want? He does not intend to
flout the constitutional limits on the president's role
as he believes his patron, Lennart Meri, did. At home,
he will use his bully pulpit to try to constrain the
politicians he so clearly disdains such as Center's
Edgar Savisaar and People's Union's Villu Reiljan. In
foreign policy, he thinks he can fill an important void,
serving as the voice for new EU entrants who want to
push the EU in two important directions: towards more
liberal economics -- he points out that his Estonian
Social Democratic Party votes more liberally on economic
issues than the German CDU -- and a more pro-U.S. foreign
policy.

WOS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>