IRL's Juhan Parts, who will lead the party in the 2015 elections and is thus seen as the party's prime minister candidate, gave ETV an interview in which he largely recapitulated his economic doctrine in the context of key issues during his recent term as economy minister.
Parts said that the ferry lines should have been nationalized and the current government should have stuck to the plan. Instead things were made "too complicated," Parts told interviewer Indrek Treufeldt.
"They should have sent all the lobbyists packing and implemented the decisions the previous government made. Today we would have had three ships and a fourth one under construction. /-/ All the decisions were made by me. Everything was ready [for the purchase of the ships by the state], The Port of Tallinn was on board for the last nine months."
Although a conservative, Parts backed an energetic state involvement in both passenger train and ship services, saying it would ultimately benefit the taxpayer. In the case of one of these areas, the ferries, the new government reversed course since Parts's ouster from the government along with the rest of IRL.
Regarding his first stint as PM from 2003-2005, Parts admitted he was still inexperienced then but that good decisions were made.
"We were green, little-experienced. But we made good decisions. There is no decision that I should regret," he said in the one-on-one conversation with host Treufeldt.
He sparred with Treufeldt, repeatedly sidestepping a question about who was responsible for negative signals being sent out over the Lihula incident, where the Parts sent cranes to remove a public monument to Estonians who fought on the German side in World War II over fear that it would be interpreted internationally as a Nazi tribute.
Parts said the next, March 1 general elections will be historic.
"Considering where we are now as a state and people, I would dare even to compare them to the 1990s elections where there was always something serious at stake."
Parts has seen his share of media criticism in the past few years as Economic Affairs Minister, and he was asked whether he didn't approach coming on the program with more trepidation that he would be grilled or set up. But he said in general he expected the media to be more inquiring so that it could truly be the fourth estate. "I think there would be more demand for it."