Power is always sweeter, more useful and important than principles. Politicians lack any and all sober and practical reason to tear down the coalition today, Indrek Kiisler writes.
Politics is basically a form of enterprise or can at the very least be compared to how a major company is run. The state budget will be used to distribute billions of additional euros this year and next. Can you imagine the board put together by the political shareholders (Conservative People's Party, Center and Isamaa) resigning during a time when the company is making huge profits?
Of course not. Loan money and EU subsidies can be invested in the future for dividends down the line.
The coalition falling apart would only hold negative consequences for the three chairmen.
It is virtually certain that the national conservatives (EKRE) will not be part of the next coalition, which situation will persist for a long time. All future coalition architects will remember that the Helme family's choice of words does not depend on present company. They are the most honest political players in Estonia in that they mostly say what they mean.
Because strong words are a good fit for only a narrow part of society, heads of EKRE cannot really hope to secure more than 20 seats at the next Riigikogu elections. They will not be in the circle of decision-makers in the next composition of the parliament, which is why they need to take this government for everything it's got.
Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas loves power. And it would be peculiar to criticize a politician for liking Stenbock House, especially when one can walk its hallways as prime minister. Ratas knows that the Reform Party holds the reins when it comes to a potential future coalition.
Of course, it would be possible to secure for him a soft landing as president of the Riigikogu, while I'm sure it does not captivate someone as restless and ambitious as Ratas. The position of Riigikogu speaker is for second echelon people in Estonian political culture.
Isamaa that has been in the most governments since 2007 is a convenience partner for the other two. Its members are crafty backroom negotiators who often draw the long straw. For them, remaining in the government is virtually a matter of life or death today, because Isamaa finding itself in the opposition with EKRE would see them dissolve into political dust, much like happened to the Free Party recently.
Even Isamaa's long-established party structure and generous sponsors might not be enough to turn the tide at the next elections. Why take risks? What if Center and Reform will actually agree on a coalition?
It is better to play it safe. [Local] elections are looming and party chairman and head of the Viljandi city council Helir-Valdor Seeder asking for money from the government's reserve fund (sic!) for renovating the Viljandi War of Independence Monument and his request being approved by the culture minister is not likely to happen in the opposition. Another score for Isamaa in Viljandi.
Therefore, power is always sweeter, more useful and important than principles. There is no sober and logical reason for dismantling the coalition today. Besides, what would those principles be?
Where EKRE stands has been common knowledge for years. It surprised no one. Center only needed the crisis to force the national conservatives to back out from holding the marriage referendum on October 17, 2021 (local elections day – ed.) as they believe it might confuse Russian voters and some of their votes could end up with EKRE. Tallinn is a traditional Center Party stronghold that is not subjected to problematic political experiments and [Mayor of Tallinn] Mihhail Kõlvart can sleep soundly now.
I'm sure opposition leader Kaja Kallas is also satisfied as she seems to like a calm and sleepy opposition. No effort, just tender whispers through Riigikogu walls and a faint hope to be heard when speaking softly. This lack of ambition to rule could call into question Kallas continuing at the head of Reform in the long perspective as her party has more people like Jüri Ratas than all others combined.
But all is well that ends well. At least that is how politicians see it.
Editor: Marcus Turovski