Vote of no confidence in Martin Helme fails
EKRE chairman and Minister of Finance Martin Helme survived a vote of no confidence brought against him by opposition party Reform on Monday evening.
In total, 46 members of the Riigikogu voted in favor of the motion of no confidence and 54 members abstained. Kaido Höövelson, a member of the Center Party faction, was absent.
The Reform Party and the Social Democratic Party voted in favor of the no-confidence vote. The coalition parties - EKRE, Isamaa and Center Party - factions abstained.
At least 51 votes - a majority - are required to pass a vote of no confidence in a minister.
Among the coalition deputies, Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits, a member of the Isamaa faction, voted in favor of the vote of no confidence. Raimond Kaljulaid, who does not belong to the faction but is a member of the Social Democratic Party, also voted in favor of no confidence.
During a discussion of Riigikogu members before the vote, Martin Helme called the situation "another fictional, empty scandal trying to overthrow this government".
On Monday morning, the Reform Party planned to submit a motion of no confidence against Mart Helme (EKRE) who resigned from the position of minister of the interior earlier today. The motion was a delayed reaction against an interview given to Deutsche Welle in which he made homophobic comments.
On Sunday, both Mart and Martin Helme made comments on their radio show speculating the U.S. elections were fraudulent. Mart Helme said Biden was elected president by the deep state. Their comments were later reported by international media outlets such as the Washington Post.
Mart Helme resigned on Monday morning so the motion of no confidence was reangled towards Martin Helme. The text of the motion can be read here.
Chairman of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas said Mart Helme's resignation was not enough and will not fix the government crisis.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) called the comments "absurd" and President Kersti Kaljulaid said they were a "verbal assault... an attack against Estonian democracy and security", adding she was "sad and embarrassed". Kaljulaid said she would convene the Defense Council this week to discuss the situation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said the remarks were crazy and Minister of Defense Jüri Luik (Isamaa) said they "undermine Estonian security and threaten to deteriorate US-Estonian relations".
At his resignation press conference on Monday morning, Mart Helme blamed the media and said he had not threatened Estonia's security.
"Looking at the slander and lies produced by the Estonian media, I decided to resign last night. I am tired. I did nothing yesterday that would endanger Estonia's security. I have not said anything that has not already been recounted by the American media, the American free media," Helme said.
"You cannot muzzle me, nobody can muzzle me. The prime minister cannot muzzle me, the president or journalists cannot muzzle me," he said. "I say what I consider to be right, what concerns me."
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Editor: Helen Wright