Karnau: Ability to bring sides together makes Ratas strongest politician

Harry Tuul and Andrus Karnau.
Harry Tuul and Andrus Karnau. Source: Kairit Leibold /ERR

The ability to conduct negotiations and bring sides to conflicts together is an extraordinary strength of [Prime Minister] Jüri Ratas and what makes him the strongest player in Estonian politics, Andrus Karnau said on Raadio 2's "Olukorrast riigis" program.

Hosts Andrus Karnau and Harry Tuul talked, among other things, about differences in the government caused by a statement by Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) that were amplified earlier in the week when Conservative People's Party (EKRE) chair, Minister of Finance Martin Helme called into question whether his party can trust the PM.

Karnau said that Center Party chair, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas demonstrated his greatest political strength this week.

"He comes across as a weak person and a weak politician who has no values, while this act allows him to plot a course for achieving the goals he is really after," Karnau said.

"It [a cake PM Jüri Ratas sent to Martin Helme after the crisis] seemingly speaks of some sort of unfathomable softness or inability to stand up for one's values, but I think it is the other way around – that softer side is a conscious choice. This is probably alien to the Estonian political observer as we are used to politicians like Edgar Savisaar, Andrus Ansip and Mart Laar. However, we have a new generation of politicians today who define themselves by their ability to navigate an icy sea," the radio show host said.

Karnau recalled how Ratas has managed to keep a coalition together through crises of values in the past.

"Looking at Ratas' political career, there was a similar over a barrel situation in his first government – thinking back to Urmas Reinsalu's infamous flock of chickens comment. We had a similar crisis of values back then where the Social Democrats managed to say they would be leaving the coalition on the level of their Riigikogu group. But Jüri Ratas kept the coalition together until elections and it seems that his ability to negotiate, bring sides together is an extraordinary strength," Karnau said.

"He has demonstrated it in the past and did it again now. Negotiating, reinforcing his position, keeping people together is what makes him the strongest player in Estonian politics, no matter what his critics say," the journalist added.

Reform Party tactics ineffective

The hosts also said that the opposition Reform Party attempted to form a new government toward the start of the week but failed.

"It has been alleged that Reform failed because it was trying to negotiate on two fronts – with both Center and Isamaa. They apparently have an accord with the Social Democrats since who knows when," Karnau said.

"Going out on two fronts simultaneously will not end well. It is possible the heads of Reform miscalculated when they took that step."

Karnau concluded that Reform Party chair Kaja Kallas once again demonstrated her strategic and tactical weakness.

Harry Tuul agreed when he said that Reform seems to lack the ability to bring about a change of government and that their current tactic clearly isn't working.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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