Olukorrast riigis: Referendum could become coalition's touchstone

Hosts of
Hosts of "Olukorrast riigis" Harry Tuul and Andrus Karnau Source: ERR

Next week's Riigikogu debate over holding a referendum concerning the definition of marriage could bring into the spotlight an unprecedented conflict inside the coalition and become a critical matter for the government even should the referendum go ahead next year, hosts of Raadio 2 talk show "Olukorrast riigis" found.

"The situation is not looking good for the coalition as both the Center Party and Isamaa have enough MPs who plan to vote against the plan. In other words, there is a good chance the coalition's bill will be defeated," Andrus Karnau said. He added that there will likely be attempts to "convince, break and threaten – I'm not sure which word to use – delegates to get them to support the bill."

Co-host Harry Tuul agreed with Karnau, saying that the referendum vote is shaping up to be the most painful issue for the coalition yet. "If it will truly prove necessary to sway or even threaten a lot of politicians to get them to agree," he said. "It is a very emotional issue, while it is still unclear to me how it can possibly improve anyone's life," Tuul said.

According to Karnau, the referendum over whether to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman on the level of the Constitution ended up in the coalition agreement because the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) sought the revocation of the Registered Partnership Act and when it failed, the sides agreed on holding a referendum.

"It is actually devilishly clever as it will give EKRE a mobilizing slogan at local government council elections (set to coincide with the referendum – ed.) where they are not necessarily strong today. The same goes for Isamaa and some Center politicians. It is a locomotive for seizing local power," Karnau said, adding that it will allow EKRE to use local elections to secure its footing and prepare for parliamentary elections in 2023.

The referendum will also become a trust issue for the government, Karnau found. "If they can get the necessary votes in the Riigikogu to put the matter up for referendum and it gets rejected, the government can no longer claim to have the support of most people," he emphasized, noting that the claim has served as one of the cornerstones of recent policy.

Tuul and Karnau also discussed the coronavirus situation, start of the Riigikogu fall session, including the speeches of President Kersti Kaljulaid and President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas, Luminor bank changing CEOs and recent artistic differences in the Pärnu city council.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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