Former British member of Parliament Lembit Opik has received an endorsement from a former rival in his unlikely-sounding bid to be elected president of Estonia.
Welsh MP Glyn Davies backs his former opponent
Conservative MP from Montgomeryshire Glyn Davies has backed the man he defeated in the 2010 UK general election, Lembit Opik, as a possible future candidate for the presidency of Estonia.
“I see my old friend Lembit Opik could be running for president of Estonia where he has strong family connections,” Davies said.
“He should go for it. Estonian politics is supposedly non-partisan which I think would suit Lembit well.
Davies is even considering more than simply issuing endorsement. “I’m hoping to meet up with him soon and I might offer to campaign for him when over in Estonia myself on EU business,” he said.
How can Lembit Opik run for President of Estonia?
Opik’s parents fled Estonia at the end of World War Two ahead of the Red Army. He grew up speaking Estonian at home (which is lucky because it is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world). Although he has lived most of his life in the UK, his background makes him eligible to take part in the politics of the tiny Baltic nation.
Speaking after a recent visit to Talinn, Opik said he is constantly asked to jump into Estonian politics. It is just talk for the moment, but he is clearly taking the idea seriously.
“One position is just to be a member of parliament, which I would not mind doing,” he told the BBC.
“There are 101 MPs and they do work in coalition, so it is not very partisan.
“The other position is president of Estonia. It is more than just a non-executive role – I could make quite a big splash.”
Making a splash is something Opik is clearly expert at. In 2006 he stunned the worlds of British politics and popular entertainment when he started dating Gabriela Irimia, one half of the pop duo of Romanian twins known as the Cheeky Girls.
The two eventually became engaged, but Irimia ended the relationship in 2008.
Since leaving Westminster he has stayed in the public eye as a reality television star, most famously appearing in the UK version of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2010.
Is Opik a serious candidate?
So far Lembit Opik is doing nothing but talking about entering Estonian politics. “I have not got a campaign plan but I have said I would be interested,” he said.
There is certainly plenty of time for preparation. Current incumbent, Kersti Kaljulaid, will not finish her five year term until 2021.
Meanwhile Opik has another political role to keep him busy. Earlier this year he was elected chairman of the parliament of Asgardia, a quixotic micronation claiming sovereignty off the back of a US-launched satellite the size of a breadbox.
With such a well-practiced knack for self-promotion, it is hard to know for sure if Opik is hoping to convert his public profile into a serious bid for the Estonian presidency, or is using the speculation to keep his name in the headlines.
But for now he is certainly talking a good game at least.
“I am seriously interested in doing it if it looks like Estonia feels like I have got something to contribute,” he told the BBC. “I would still have to win – and I could easily lose, but I am used to that.”