The reason for Social Democrat Chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski swapping out three minister lies in the wish to assert his authority and bring his own team into the Cabinet, University of Tartu political science professor Vello Pettai said.
“If we compare Margus Tsahkna becoming IRL chairman, then he did not make any great changes. But in the current situation Ossinovski has had to do it, to secure his power base after a small revolt,” Pettai said, commenting on Ossinovski recalling three out of the party's four government ministers and naming replacements, including himself.
Tsahkna himself said Ossinovski had searched for an opening since becoming chairman, from changing the coalition agreement to the possibility of leaving the government, adding that he now has his own team and has recalled Sven Mikser's team.
Center Party Parliament faction head Kadri Simson said the changes are an attempt to freshen up the party's role in the government.
According to ETV, a third of the party's board was against the changes, especially recalling Sven Mikser.
“The party chairman must join the government, I have always said this. For the party head to come into the government, I must step back,” Mikser said shortly after the board meeting, which decided the ministerial changes.
Outgoing Health and Labor Minister Rannar Vassiljev said the decision did not come as a complete surprise, adding that there were many topics he would have wanted to continue working on, such as policy on limiting alcohol consumption.
Hannes Hanso, who will become the new defense minister, told Postimees he first heard about the possibility on Wednesday, last week. “These decisions are not easy. The current post [head of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee] is very interesting and it is a shame to leave it so quickly.”
Ossinovski: no internal disruptions
Ossinovski said that he, all the ministers and the party's board came to a concensus that if the party head becomes a minister, he can asemble his own team. “I see Sven Mikser taking on the foreign affairs committee chairmanship, to which he agreed to. This does not mean – even if people assume – that the change is a vote of confidence against someone,” he said.
“I will deal with questions which are important for us, such as minimum wage negotiations, increasing the minimum wage and other work-related questions. In a wide perspective, these are topics which can be kept under focus by the weight of the party head,” Ossinovski said.
Eesti Päevaleht reported at the end of August, that the party has split into two camps, with one, led by former head Mikser, preferring to stay in the government. The daily said Mikser is backed by Vassiljev, Indrek Saar and Eiki Nestor, while Ossinovski's camp consists of Urve Palo and Andres Anvelt, among others.
Editor: J.M. Laats