Paper: Minister of Rural Affairs Martin Repinski to remain in office
Daily Eesti Päevaleht wrote on Monday that Repinski would likely remain in office, as sacking him would lead to new trouble within the Center Party, and in effect also the coalition. Meanwhile farmers turned to the prime minister with an appeal to let Repinski stay, as he was the first minister with an understanding of their situation in many years.
Like Prime Minister Jüri Ratas pointed it out on Saturday, the new government’s first ten days in office have been dominated by the “scandal” surrounding Minister of Rural Affairs Martin Repinski (Center). Ranging from the origin of his company’s goat cheese to a fraudulent charity advert Repinski published when he was 15 years old, the Estonian media did what they could to drag all of the minister’s shortcomings out in the open.
The matter of Repinski’s character would have come as an unpleasant surprise to Ratas’ government. According to speculation of political analysts as well as journalists, the prime minister needed the past weekend to get ready to sack Repinski.
But according to information available to daily Eesti Päevaleht, this is not the case. The paper wrote on Monday morning that sacking Repinski could have the Center Party’s internal conflicts flare up again, and cost Ratas the cooperation of those members of the party’s parliamentary group that are counted among former chairman Edgar Savisaar’s supporters.
This again would destabilize the government to a point where junior partners SDE and IRL may well end up leaving the coalition, the paper wrote.
With up to seven votes of the Center Party’s parliamentary group at risk, Repinski would most likely be kept on as a compromise candidate, Päevaleht opined. At 56 votes in the Riigikogu, just six MPs making trouble could cost Ratas his mandate.
According to chairman of Center’s parliamentary group, MP Tarmo Tamm, everybody is currently getting along, but Repinski leaving the government would certainly stir up new trouble.
Repinski was forced to apologize and offer explanations after it came out that the goat cheese sold by his Konju Farm had partially been of Dutch origin. Further reports also brought out that Repinski had made misleading statements about the storage life of the cheese.
ERR’s Estonian news portal reported last week that Repinski had received a suspended sentence when he was 15. In what the minister explained as an act of desperation triggered by his family’s financial situation, the 15-year-old Martin Repinski published an advert asking for donations to a women’s convent, but added his own account number to it.
Farmers: Repinski should stay in office
In an open letter to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), several farmers and farmers’ unions wrote that they would like Repinski to remain in office.
“We support Martin Repinski’s initiatives and ideas for the development of agriculture, and we think it is important that he get 100 days without criticism to put them into practice,” the farmers wrote.
The Estonian agricultural industry was in deep crisis, the statement read. A minister was needed who knows the business and its intricacies inside out, who could understand the farmers as well as their circumstances, and Repinski had so far proven that he fit this description.
For too many years the Estonian government had relied on ministers without a background in agriculture, and the resulting policies had taken the industry into a deep crisis to which they had been incapable of offering a solution.
The appeal was signed by a wide range of unions and farmers, including the representatives of large as well as small producers, milk producing farms, and livestock breeders.