Coalition consultations begin with four parties in attendance (1)
The leaders of the Reform Party, Social Democrats, IRL and the Free Party will meet today at 10:00 to start negotiating a coalition agreement.
Whereas the Social Democrats initially rejected the idea of a four-party coalition, citing the possibility of the three right wing partners sidelining social democratic ideas, they have now agreed to attend further consultations.
As a four-party coalition is unusual in Estonian practice, the smaller parties remained sceptical about the possibility of reaching a working agreement that would allow for a broad-based government President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and PM Taavi Rõivas have been talking about.
Now Indrek Saar, secretary-general of SDE, said his party will continue with the consultations as there is enough common ground with other potential coalition partners. Like other smaller parties, SDE is interested in pushing through a state reform and change the way parties are currently financed. However, the party heads have made it clear that they will not be part of the coalition if a number topics they are interested in are not written into the coalition agreement.
"Of course, the question of transparency and democracy is one of those things, but there are a number of social issues as well. If we are talking about the democraphic situation, margnialization, or poverty in its many forms - we have several things that have to go into this agreement. If these are not met, I don't see the soc dems as part of the coalition," Saar said.
The Free Party's biggest vote magnet, producer Artur Talvik, expressed a similar stand yesterday, saying that his party too has set several "red lines" they refuse to cross. One of the principles that might see the Free Party withdraw itself from the coalition talks is the "democracy package", including the aforementioned change to funding of political parties by making it ress reliant on state budget. The other cause close to the Free Party's heart is the administrative reform.
The four parties were initally due to meet yesterday but the meeting was postponed as both SDE and the Free Party asked for more time to prepare.
If the four-party coalition were to realize, it would have 67 seats in the Parliament (Reform Party 30, SDE 15, IRL 14, Free Party 8), one less than is needed to elect a new president in the Parliament.