Ratas: Coalition collapse in Tartu a teachable moment ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center).
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) told ERR Monday that his party's travails in Estonia's second city, Tartu, seem irreconcilable at the moment, adding that the collapse of the Reform-Center coalition on the city's government Monday night was a teachable moment.

"The Center Party has always had many members and different opinions, but as a rule, we have been able to settle our disputes peacefully by negotiation," Ratas, who is also Center Party leader, said on his social media account.

"We tried the same thing this time, but it was sadly unsuccessful," he added.

"The events in Tartu definitely serve as a lesson to our party and we must move forward smarter from this. We will make a joint effort to strengthen the party in Tartu and face the next local elections united," he continued.

Reform are planning to meet with the Social Democratic Party (SDE) on Tuesday to negotiate a possible new coalition; Center say that they had wanted to renegotiate with Reform to start afresh along the same lines, but this had not been possible.

Last week, Center nominated Aleksandr Širokov as candidate for new deputy mayor; however, for Širokov to take up his seat, current incumbent, Monica Rand, would need to step down, which she has so far refused to do.

Rand was expelled from the Center Party earlier in the week, after refusing to honor a November agreement under which her role would have expired on January 1.

The Tartu city chamber consists of the Reform Party on 20 seats, SDE on eight, Center on seven, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) on six, and Isamaa on three. Additionally there are three seats split between two smaller, regional groups.

Tartu mayor is Urmas Klaas (Reform).

Center Tartu chair: Party in good health

Meanwhile Jaan Toots, chair of Center's Tartu branch, said the party remained in good health there.

"Several interesting and ambitious people have joined the Tartu chapter of the Center Party," Toots said, according to BNS.

"My goal is to bring more young people into politics who want to do something great for the City of Tartu. The Center Party will come back stronger in Tartu," he added.

Commenting on the recent political events in city governance, Tartu city council chair Aadu Must said that the Center Party has been in office in the South Estonian town since 2001, with much achieved during that time.

"Several schools and child care institutions have been renovated in Tartu and we have eliminated waiting lists for kindergarten," Must said, enumerating support centers, the city's smart bike share scheme, and the construction of a football stadium – alongside being awarded European Capital of Culture 2024 – as being Center achievements.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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