Siim Kallas: Reform Party need to revise basic arguments (1)

Kallas has had a great part in shaping the Estonian state and its politics. The new coalition led by the Center Party represents the first departure from the course his party set out in the late 1990s. (ERR)
11/18/2016 9:28 AM
Category: News

In an interview with daily Postimees published on Friday, former Estonian prime minister and vice president of the European Commission, Siim Kallas, said that in opposition, his party should look in the mirror and work to find a platform with which to enter the 2019 Riigikogu elections and get back into government.

Kallas said that right now he preferred to be careful making predictions about the new coalition’s politics. As with any coalition government, there would be problems, especially as there were three parties involved.

In 1999, Siim Kallas became prime minister with a coalition of the Reform Party, the Moderates, and the Pro Patria Union. Asked by Postimees’ Joosep Värk what his reaction would have been if back then someone had told him that the Reform Party would be in government for the coming 17 years, Kallas said it would have sounded unbelievable.

As for the outgoing government, there had been pressures inside the coalition, and that had to be accepted. One had to take things the way they are, Kallas said. To get busy afterwards and trying to find out who had put one over on the other might be interesting intellectually, but the Reform Party now needed to think about the future.

Considering how difficult the coalition negotiations had been between the Reform Party, the Social Democrats, and IRL in 2015, it could be said that problems had been apparent already then, Kallas observed.

Reform Party should revisit ideological positions

Kallas said that the Reform Party would need to reconsider its ideological positions, as 17 years in government had inevitably slowed it down. The attitude had been to rather not make experiments, as there might have been resistance to them.

As part of the opposition, the Reform Party needed to revise its basic arguments and come up with an alternative it could offer to the voters. They needed to work on a concept to get back into government in 2019. The party had a lot of capable people, and there had been disagreements among them recently, there was no denying that, Kallas said. The party needed to find a way to unite and get ready for the next political battle, which Kallas thinks are the 2019 Riigikogu elections.

The aim for which the party had been founded, namely the establishment of a free market economy and its development, were still up to date, Kallas said, especially as in Europe such an economy was often seen as a problem rather than a solution. The solution to the Euro Crisis had been centered on individual member states a lot, and afterwards those mechanisms that would have given people the ability to start over were not put in place, and there was no economic growth.

No alternative to liberalism

Referring to recent election victories around the world by parties and politicians that favored protectionism and closing borders, Kallas said that this wasn’t anything one could agree with. If Estonia chose the same path, if it became a protectionist country, he wouldn’t want to imagine what would happen. If Estonia introduced tariffs, so would the others, and those others were a lot more powerful, Kallas pointed out.

Asked about the Reform Party’s slow shift towards ideological conservatism, Kallas said that the party had managed to win elections this way, and that conservatism and liberalism weren’t mutually exclusive. German chancellor Ludwig Erhard (Minister of Economic Affairs 1949-1963, Chancellor 1963-1966) had been a conservative, but also one of the most prominent pioneers of European liberal politics. Mart Laar was a conservative, yet his economic policies had been liberal, Kallas pointed out.

The Reform Party’s future success with a liberal platform would depend on what the new coalition would do, Kallas said. The party needed to find a viable compromise between conservatism and liberalism.

The way forward

Kallas said that the party hadn’t taken the time to thoroughly think things through. This had been where the problems began. What exactly had gone wrong was still to be found out, but in about a month things should already be clearer. A true liberal always had to look in the mirror, Kallas said.

Asked about his own plans and ambitions, Kallas said that at the moment, he didn’t have much of either. He would want to join the party’s leadership in its next internal elections, but not likely go for the chairmanship.

A lot that had happened, and a lot of Estonian economic policy in general had his fingerprints on it, Kallas said. Of course he was proud of that, but it could all be interpreted in different ways, and he wanted to defend his contribution as well. But perhaps this would be less of an issue of someone else without his kind of past took this role upon themselves, Kallas added.

The interview was published in Postimees on Nov. 18, 2016 (link in Estonian).

Editor: Dario Cavegn

The name field cannot be empty
No more than 50 characters
Comment field cannot be empty
No more than 50 characters
Comment field cannot be empty
No more than 1024 characters
{{error}}

Message forwarded to the editor

This Ip-address has limited access

See also

There are no comments yet. Be the first!

Reply to comment

+{{childComment.ReplyToName}}:
Reply to comment
Reply

Laadi juurde ({{take2}})
The name field cannot be empty
No more than 50 characters
Comment field cannot be empty
No more than 1024 characters
{{error}}
Add new comment
  • foto
    Center Party to sell Old Town headquarters to cover debts
    11:07

    The leadership of Estonia's Center Party decided unanimously on Tuesday that the party must sell the building of its headquarters in Tallinn's medieval Old Town in order to improve its financial standing.

  • foto
    Reps: Savisaar was acting solo in recent years
    10:03

    According to Mailis Reps, a member of the Center Party’s leadership who had read the statement of charges against Tallinn ex-mayor and former longtime party chairman Edgar Savisaar, the latter had been acting solo in the organization of party financing in recent years, with the party leadership unaware of his activities.

  • foto
    Financial Affairs Committee supports bill introducing de facto progressive income tax
    09:15

    The Riigikogu’s Financial Affairs Committee on Tuesday supported the coalition’s proposed tax changes. According to the committee’s chairman, Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Center), the decision was voted on after a heated debate. The bill proposes substantial changes to the Estonian taxation system.

  • foto
    Last Riigikogu committees get new chairmen
    08:27

    The Riigikogu’s environmental affairs, cultural affairs, and rural affairs standing committees got new chairmen and deputy chairmen on Tuesday. Following the Riigikogu’s ommon practice, the chairmen belong to the ruling coalition, while the deputies are all opposition party members.

  • foto
    Rural affairs minister resigns after less than two weeks on job
    06.12 Updated Today 07:55

    On Monday night, the leadership of the Center Party had begun discussing the matter of Minister of Rural Affairs Martin Repinski continuing in his position as minister following the surfacing of two scandals involving him. Unable to reach a final decision on the matter, they planned to continue discussing the matter on Tuesday evening. Repinski preempted the final decision, however, when he handed in his letter of resignation to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Tuesday.

  • foto
    Ambassador Petrov: Russia not posing threat to Estonia
    06.12

    There are no grounds on which to claim that Russia is posing a military threat to Estonia, Russian Ambassador to Estonia Alexander Petrov said in an interview with Russian news agency Interfax on Tuesday.

  • foto
    Tapa preparing for arrival of British-led battalion next year
    06.12

    In April 2017 an allied battle group led by the United Kindom will arrive in Estonia. Its commander, Lt. Col. Mark Wilson, said at a press conference held in Tapa on Tuesday that its mission was different, as there was no clear everyday threat here in Estonia.

  • foto
    Estonia jumps to third place globally in 2015 PISA rankings
    06.12

    Improving its results across the reading, math and science categories compared to its 2012 results and outranked only by Singapore and Japan, Estonia jumped from sixth to third place overall and first place in Europe in the OECD's freshly released 2015 PISA rankings.

  • foto
    Poll: Attitudes towards immigrants and refugees more positive
    06.12

    A recent poll commissioned by the Government Communication Office showed that Estonians’ attitudes towards foreigners as well as refugees have improved, compared to previous polls taken in 2015 at the high point of the migration crisis.

  • foto
    Confusing incident leads to protest by residents of Harku dentention center
    06.12

    An incident on Sunday led foreigners detained at Harku Detention Center to protest against the center on Monday, with residents of the expulsion center refusing to eat and a number of detainees waving signs in the yard and refusing to go inside.

  • foto
    European Parliament’s budgetary control committee supports Parts
    06.12

    The European Parliament’s budgetary control committee heard former Estonian prime minister and minister Juhan Parts (IRL) on Monday, who is the government’s candidate for the European Court of Auditors. Parts had to answer questions about the Ermamaa case as well as state aid for the former national carrier Estonian Air.

  • foto
    Referendum results: Kõpu residents drawn more to Viljandi than Suure-Jaani
    06.12

    Kõpu Municipality is currently in merger talks with Suure-Jaani and Kõo Municipalities and the town of Võhma. According to the results of a referendum that drew to a close on Monday night, however, local residents are in fact more in favor of merging with Viljandi Municipality.

  • foto
    Former President Ilves to head to Stanford University as visiting fellow
    06.12

    Former President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves will be heading to California to join Stanford University as a visiting fellow beginning in January. According to the university, his initial appointment will run from January through June, after which the school's Hoover Institute is to extend his appointment for another full year.

  • foto
    Parliament: Tax amendments to get second reading, Eesmaa and Rõivas elected vice-presidents of the Riigikogu
    05.12

    If the Estonian parliament’s Finance Committee is able to vote on all the new government coalition’s tax amendments on Tuesday and forwards the bill to the Riigikogu, the bill’s second reading will take place on Wednesday despite the Reform Party’s efforts to delay it.

  • foto
    Finance minister to set up naming committee for state company supervisory boards
    05.12

    Finance Minister Sven Sester (IRL) is planning to set up a committee of experts at the beginning of next year that would help ministers appoint supervisory committees of state-owned companies.

  • foto
    Federation Council speaker: Russia will continue to defend non-citizens in Baltics
    05.12

    Russia will continue to defend the rights of its citizens and fellow countrymen, including non-citizens in the Baltic states, Speaker of Russia's Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko said.

  • foto
    Estonia weighing Finland's invitation to go in on artillery tender
    05.12

    The Estonian Ministry of Defence has confirmed that Estonia is aware of Finland's offer to join their artillery procurement tender, however they have yet to reach a decision regarding whether or not they will choose to cooperate with their northern neighbors on this one.

  • foto
    Three Riigikogu committees elect new chairmen
    05.12

    Elections for the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the Economic Affairs Committee, the Social Affairs Committee and the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu were held on Monday.

  • foto
    Rõivas to step down as Reform Party chairman
    05.12

    Former prime minister Taavi Rõivas announced on Monday that he had decided to step down as chairman of the Reform Party by the end of the year. Rõivas was voted out of office in an expression of no confidence on Nov. 9, speculations about his replacement as chairman have made rounds since.

  • foto
    Ratas invites British PM Theresa May to Estonia
    05.12

    British Prime Minister Theresa May called Jüri Ratas on Monday to congratulate him on his assumption of the position of Prime Minister of Estonia; Ratas in turn invited May to visit Estonia.

  • foto
    Repinski to continue as Minister of Rural Affairs
    05.12

    Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) made the decision on Wednesday to keep Martin Repinski on as Minister of Rural Affairs. Repinski had faced massive criticism over the past few weeks for his questionable business practices, as well as for a suspended sentence for fraud he received when he was 15 years old.

  • foto
    Police director: Volunteer assistant police, sea rescue part of PPA team
    05.12

    In recognition of International Volunteer Day, the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) is thanking all of its volunteers who find the time in their everyday lives to contribute to the security of Estonia.

  • foto
    Mihkelson's USA visit to focus on relations with Trump administration
    05.12

    Chairman of the Riigikogu’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Marko Mihkelson (IRL), is currently on a visit to the United States. On his schedule are the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Transatlantic Forum as well as meetings with leading members of the US Congress.

  • foto
    Large USSR-style special care homes to be closed down by 2020
    05.12

    Apart from the ongoing work ability reform, the Estonian welfare system has an additional change coming up, namely the closing of the country’s six large special care homes in 2020. Its residents are to be reassigned to smaller homes with up to 30 people. The change represents a shift from Soviet-style social care to a more Western approach.

  • foto
    Linda Line cancels all departures through Tuesday morning
    05.12

    Linda Line, the operator of a high-speed ferry connection between Tallinn and Helsinki, canceled all of its scheduled departures through Tuesday morning due to inclement weather.

  • foto
    Van der Bellen becomes President of Austria
    05.12

    Sunday’s repetition of the runoff between right-wing populist candidate Norbert Hofer and left-wing Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen produced a clear enough result. Van der Bellen won the election with 53% of the vote. His campaign and election received unusual attention in the Estonian media because his mother was Estonian.

  • foto
    Paper: Minister of Rural Affairs Martin Repinski to remain in office
    05.12

    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.

  • foto
    EU report: Estonia leads Baltic states in drug abuse
    04.12

    According to the European Drug Report 2016, the use of illegal substances is considerably more widespread in Estonia than in Latvia and Lithuania, and above the European Union average when it comes to cannabis, amphetamines, and ecstasy.

  • foto
    Paper: Finland invited Estonia to join howitzer tender
    04.12

    Finnish defense minister Jussi Niinistö suggested that Estonia and Finland issue a joint tender for new artillery guns. Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat wrote on Saturday that the Estonian government had been informed about Finland’s plans.

  • foto
    Over a quarter of Estonian schoolchildren victims of cyberbullying
    04.12

    A poll taken by the Estonian Union for Child Welfare showed that 27% of Estonian schoolchildren have experienced cyberbullying. The union concluded that more attention needs to be paid to this issue.

Features