Reps: Marriage referendum will not be held at same time as local elections

Minister of Education and Research and Vice-Chairman of the Center Party, Mailis Reps, said on ETV morning show "Terevisioon" that the Center Party is ready to mantain its difference of opinion with coalition partner the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and move forward with the same lineup.

Reps also said that a controversial planned marriage referendum won't happen at the same time as the local government elections, which will take place in 11 months.

Tension following remarks made by Interior Minister Mart Helme (EKRE) to German public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) needed to be diffused, she added.

"Terevisioon" host Liisu Lass asked Reps if the DW controversy had been resolved, so far as the two parties went. "Some things will remain antagonistic, but maybe they are a bit more straightforward than a year and a half ago. However, we have discussed things enough to understand each other's positions and agreed to disagree with dignity and find reasons to continue moving forward," Reps said.

Speaking to DW's Russian-language portal late last week, Helme said that LGBT+ people might be best off moving to Sweden, where they would be better treated, than staying in Estonia.

Reps said that most probably, the Center Party won't present any ultimatums on the matter and Helme's resignation won't be required.

However, this doesn't mean that the Center Party tolerates this kind of behavior, she said.

Reps admitted that the situation may give the impression that EKRE has established itself aggressively ahead of its coalition partners Center and Isamaa.

"To wrap up the crisis, we had to discuss it a lot and retain our different positions with dignity. Eventually, we weren't trying to persuade each other, but we agreed that we should also remain polite towards society as a whole," Reps said.

The issue of the EKRE-sponsored marriage referendum has also caused major rifts, she said. "We clearly disagree on certain aspects of the referendum. One is that it must be in line with the constitution," she said.

Reps said that she doesn't know when will the referendum take place, adding it will most likely not take place at the previously suggested time, i.e. during the local elections.

Reps confirmed that the government crisis will be resolved on Thursday, October 22. The cabinet holds a regular meeting on that day.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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