President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has checked in with leading Social Democrat Sven Mikser (pictured) with regard to talks with the Reform Party's prime ministerial candidate Siim Kallas, inquiring as to the status of the negotiations and laying out the priorities the new government is expected to shoulder, uudised.err.ee is reporting.
Mikser emerged from the meeting with few new details, but emphasized that the Social Democrats would stick tough to their line on child benefits.
"The government in which the Social Democrats will be a part must certainly raise child benefits. The Social Democrats will certainly not be ready to join a coalition where the universal child benefit will not rise," he told ETV today.
IRL representatives are meeting Ilves next this afternoon, with Ilves due to consult with the Center Party tomorrow and with the Reform Party on Wednesday.
To this point, the spotlight has been on the Reform Party and Social Democrats, in talks to form a coalition of two, with the general wish to increase the welfare of people and boost their incomes cited as common aims of the ideologically different parties.
With the party behind him, Kallas is tipped to be Ilves' choice for forming a new government after Andrus Ansip resigned last week. (This afternoon, Ansip formally notified Parliament of his resignation - first conveyed at the government sitting of March 4 - as law requires.)
Kallas has emphasized that current partner IRL is not being abandoned, but Sven Mikser of the Social Democrats has previously ruled out a coalition with the Reform Party and IRL, which is in the outgoing government. And a number of observers claim to know that IRL will not be invited to form a new coalition.
Commenting on the weekend discussions with the Social Democrats, Kallas told ERR radio today that there is agreement on maintaining the structural balance of Estonian finances and continuing with the reform of child allowances, with several suggestions from the Social Democrats added to the plan.
Kallas claimed it is possible to lower taxes and raise child allowances, a key demand of the Social Democrats.
In an interview with Eesti Päevaleht today, Mikser reiterated the child allowance raise as a key demand but was cagey about specifics and said ministerial posts have not been discussed. Mikser said the talks are unlikely to be a strategic maneuver on the Reform Party’s part to achieve a better position in terms of reforming the IRL coalition.