Reform Party urges people to tie plebiscite vote to trust in government

Reform Party leader Kaja Kallas.
Reform Party leader Kaja Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Chairman of the opposition Reform Party Kaja Kallas suggests people vote "no" at the upcoming plebiscite over whether marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman and use it to provide an assessment of the government's work and the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) policy. The ruling Center Party is also looking to consult people on other matters in spring.

Kallas said that the marriage issue will drive a wedge in society and regards canceling the planned plebiscite as a good solution. Answering "no" to the plebiscite question would reflect people's opinion of the government's work.

"Any question thus raised by the government is to an extent a vote of confidence in that government," Kallas said.

Chairman of the Center Party council Tõnis Mölder said that the coalition has agreed to hold plebiscites in the future and that this form of direct democracy should not be feared. Mölder added that Center wants to add more questions to the April plebiscite.

"We believe other questions could be put to the Estonian people directly come spring, not just the marriage issue. There are various environmental, educational and possibly also healthcare-related options on the table. What that agreement will be exactly will be determined by the coalition in the coming weeks," Mölder said.

Analysts: Reform could have stepped up sooner

Political scientist Tõnis Leht said that Center's initiative to add other questions to the plebiscite reflects a desire not to amplify tensions in society or choose sides.

"It is purely a political technological tactic that will see any other question, whether it be a nuclear power plant or euthanasia, added to the mix to dilute it. Something to ease tensions and divert attention. That is the goal here," Leht said.

His colleague Tõnis Saarts said that the Reform Party could not pick sides on the marriage issue as it has supporters in both camps.

"The party cannot take a very clear stand in this matter and talking about the government, EKRE and turning it into a vote of trust in the coalition is the course they've now plotted," Saarts explained.

Leht believes that Reform's desire to expand on the marriage question makes sense but adds that the initiative could have come sooner.

"Instead, they allowed the Greens and to a smaller degree also Estonia 200 to take the initiative with their portal petition (on whether Estonia should legalize gay marriage – ed.). But Kallas has expanded the question now."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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