Reform Party invites four parties to consultations (6)

PM Taavi Rõivas is all concentration as the Free Party's Andres Herkel makes a point in the pre-election debate. Herkel is included by most observers as an important part of the coalition-building puzzle. (ERR)
3/3/2015 9:01 AM
Category: Politics

The election winner Reform Party invited four of the other five parties in the next Parliament to preliminary talks, expected to start today, to see which combinations of forces could work in the next Cabinet.

The Center Party, which finished second, was the only party that did not get the nod. The others were the Social Democrats, IRL, Free Party and the Conservative People's Party (EKRE).

"It's true that the Center Party's views on security policy, the values they represent, are ultimately too different to ours," said Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas on ETV Monday night.

Among post-election observers, there is a strong camp of those who feel a coalition of the current partners Reform and Social Democrats (30 + 15 seats), and the addition of Free Party (8), is already penciled in. President Toomas Hendrik Ilves met with only the leaders of those three parties on Monday, adding fuel to those speculations.

PR consultant Andreas Kaju told ETV's morning program "Terevisioon" that the coalition with the Social Democrats and the Free Party would play into the hands of the Reform Party, who would have a stronger position as the coalition leader than it did in the previous two governments, where the IRL/SDE were treated like equal partners.

"First of all, the Reform-SDE coalition that was formed last spring held out rather nicely and managed to fulfill the few objectives it has set itself /.../ Relations were kept under control and although there were a few issues where interest groups tried to sway the result in one way or another, the coalition passed the relevant acts and this as a general rule is a sign of a wish to continue together after the election, that they won't be fighting over small matters," Kaju said.

He added that the Free Party's success is good news to both Reform and Center Parties, as it undermines the position of the Social Democrats and the IRL, giving them stronger positions at coalition/opposition talks.

The life-time of the new coalition will depend on what the parties agree upon. The Free Party will definitely insist on lowering state subsidies for parliamentary parties and the threshold for getting representation in the Parliament in the next elections, the Social Democrats have promised higher minimum wage, higher pensions and 75-euro child support for the first two children, and the Reform Party wants to lower taxes on labor, improve national defense and take the child support for the third child up to 300 euros.

Besides the tensions with Center, there are questions whether the Reform Party, which drafted and pushed through the most publicized bill of the autumn, the gender-neutral Cohabitation Act, could work with the Conservative People's Party. Rõivas told ETV he didn't know whether the latter party would raise their opposition to the inclusive law as an issue in consultations. The parliament-elect still has to pass acts implementing the law, which extends the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples as well.

The Reform Party won the elections on March 1 with 27.7 percent of the popular vote and 30 seats in the 101-seat Parliament.

K. Rikken, M.Oll

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