The Conservative People's Party of Estonia's (EKRE) new proposal as environment minister is significant in not being an elected MP and shows that the part has a short roster from which to choose, Reform leader Kaja Kallas says.
Kallas noted that EKRE's proposed candidate, Rain Epler, replacing the outgoing Rene Kokk who is stepping down, citing health concerns, has not received a mandate from the people in not having run for an election.
Epler is an adviser to the Ministry of Finance.
"Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk is resigning, giving health reasons as the factor. This may well be the case. But what I am seeing is that the EKRE roster is very short. There are the two or three Helmes (leader Martin, interior minister Mart, and MP Helle-Moonika – ed.) and about others I don't really have an opinion," Kallas said via a Facebook Live presentation she gave Thursday afternoon.
Kallas noted that of the 19 sitting EKRE MPs, all voted by the electorate, none have been nominated to the post (one sitting MP, Kert Kingo, was previously IT and foreign trade minister, and another Tiit Kala, must make way for the returning Rene Kokk – ed.).
Kallas nonetheless noted that this was perhaps just as well, in some cases.
"I sincerely hope that when the new candidate for the Minister of the Environment is nominated, this will not be [MP] Peeter Ernits, If you look at some of his statements and, for example, what he once asked me in the Riigikogu hall – i.e. do I ever have suicidal thoughts – well if he ascends to the post of minister, we will get a Mart Helme part two," Kallas said.
According to the chairman of the Reform Party, in the light of other scandals, little attention was paid to the imprisonments that EKRE made with the heads of its committees.
Kallas also noted that attention has not been paid to, for example, the removal of EKRE MP Paul Puustusmaa as chair of the Riigikogu's constitutional committee after he had called Mart Helme to order over a dispute in the chamber about the Aliens Act. Puustumsaa was replaced by Alar Laneman, who Kallas said did not have the relevant legal education but who was better suited to the committee he had to leave to take up the post vacated by Puustusmaa, namely the Security Authorities Surveillance Select Committee.
Rain Epler is an EKRE member; current IT and foreign trade minister Raul Siem was not an MP prior to taking up the post, and his predecessor Kaimar Karu was not a party member either. Rural affairs minister Arvo Aller is a long-standing party member but also was not an MP.
Government ministers do not sit at the Riigikogu but are usually appointed at the beginning of an administration from the list of MPs elected at the preceding general election. A replacement MP is then found from the next person on the electoral list who did not win a seat at the election. If a minister returns to the chamber, the substitute MP must vacate the seat, which is precisely what Tiit Kala will do when Rene Kokk returns to parliament.
Editor: Andrew Whyte