Herkel: New coalition not a goal in itself
Free Party Chairman Andres Herkel said that any new coalition would have little point if it does not lead to a change in the way Estonian politics is run.
Speculation about changes to the coalition of the Reform Party, Social Democrats (SDE) and IRL have been rife since new SDE head Jevgeni Ossinovski has come out with 15 proposals to change the coalition agreement, which was only signed in April.
“If one cartel party is exchanged for a second one and the substance does not change, then this akin to taking a sock off and putting it on the other foot, but it might not lead to cleaner politics and a new quality. For that reason it is of primary importance to agree to limit political corruption, especially using public money for party political goals. Secondly, one should be sure no one will doubt the current security policy principles,” Herkel said.
He said political promises should not be filled by unreasonable tax hikes or by harming the economy, adding that such agreements are short-sighted and only serve the purpose of coalition members.
“Estonia needs a political agreement which is based on perspective, which prioritizes economic and security interests and which has a balanced social policy, which in turn is not only a method for election popularity,” Herkel said.
Herkel said they made a number of proposals to increase democracy. He added that the SDE proposal to increase the monthly tax-free minimum rate was also proposed by them at the coalition talks in March, and the idea was rejected by the Reform Party.
The current coalition has 30 (Reform Party) + 15 (SDE) + 14 (IRL) seats in Parliament, a total of 59 seats in the 101-member-assembly. The Center Party would be the only mathematical choice to replace the Reform Party, it won 27 seats at the March 1 general election.
The Free Party has 8 and EKRE 7 seats, meaning that there is not much space for political maneuvering.
The Reform Party could kick out either SDE or IRL for the Free Party, making a 52 or 53-strong coalition. The Free Party has been very vocal, especially when it was locked in coalition talks with the Reform Party, SDE and IRL in March, and it may demand too much from the Reform Party.
The Center Party, SDE and IRL could form a government of 56 MPs, but that would depend on the Center Party ousting Edgar Savisaar as chairman. IRL, and some in the Social Democrats are unwilling to work with him.
The Reform Party and the Center Party could make an alliance, as they did between 2005-2007 under Andrus Ansip. They would have 57 votes.
A more unlikely development would be broad-based anti-Reform Party coalition, with the Center Party, SDE, IRL and the Free Party, a total of 64 votes. The Reform Party have been in government since 1999 and have held the top ministerial post in all but five of those 16 years. Such a scenario would need a strong candidate for president, with Parliament set to elect a successor to Toomas Hendrik Ilves in August next year. Although a successful candidate would need 68 votes in Parliament.
There are not many other possibilities as few, if any, are willing to work with EKRE.