The editorials for Thursday's newspapers are critical toward education minister Mailis Reps (Center) and find that the minister should have taken responsibility for misusing her official car. Center Party leader and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' defense of Reps is also hit with criticism as the newspapers say that Edgar Savisaar's foundations in the party are still strong.
Postimees: Reps should have taken political responsibility
Postimees writes in its editorial (link in Estonian) that instead of taking political responsibility for the scandal and stepping down, Reps has begun manuevring and using PR strategies. Her colleagues within the ministry and party seem to be loyal, which is why it is too early to speak of her stepping down as minister.
"The government should take a clear stance for both the minister continuing and for misuse of benefits, because tolerating these actions could bring sad consequences for Estonia as a legal state, where rules must equally apply for everyone."
Postimees adds it is understandable that it is difficult to manage children making it to school and hobby groups from an intensive and responsible position, but no public servant should mix up their private and work life.
"What should all the single mothers, who have been forced to give up higher education and jobs and whose former partner does not even consider contributing financially to raising their children, feel."
Äripäev: Ratas' defense of Reps shows strength of Savisaar's school of thought
Äripäev, in their editorial (link in Estonian), acknowledges their colleagues at Õhtuleht and writes that Jüri Ratas' government, with the help of EKRE, has generally directed Estonia toward being an annoying Eastern European country but has reverted back to a familiar Soviet nomenklatura - a class of elites - defending Mailis Reps and making it seem as if she has more privileges than her subjects.
"The quick and unambiguous justification of Reps' actions by Jüri Ratas comes as no surprise as it is in complete accordance with the government's actions to date and Edgar Savisaar's teachings," the newspaper writes.
Äripäev considers Center Party politicians' statements of a paid incentive tax hypocritical, since that tax also comes from the tax-payer.
Õhtuleht: Mailis Reps lied and muddled
Õhtuleht begins their editorial (link in Estonian) by saying that Mailis Reps lied and muddled. The paper wrote that there have been lying ministers before and their fates have generally been similar.
"We knew what was to follow when we published the piece. We knew we were going to be accused of bullying a single mother and her children. Noone is arguing that the lives of single mothers (and fathers) is not hard in Estonia. But it is a separate subject and is no justification for stealing and corruption," Õhtuleht wrote.
Eesti Päevaleht: Let Reps' scandal bring solutions
Eesti Päevaleht acknowledges in its editorial (link in Estonian) that Reps has long exploited techniques unavailable or forbidden to mere mortals. The paper is bewildered that while Reps is soon closing on her fourth year as minister, she nor any of her party partners have made amendments to solve balancing work-life balance for everyone in Reps' situation.
"One option is to unequivocally legitimize what Reps has done - allow institutions and companies hire people whose tasks are to assist key employees in intensive positions in their private matters. But blurring the lines between official and private business can quickly get out of hand and make it too simple to act unjustifiably when it comes to private spending from state or company coffers," the paper wrote.
An alternative option, according to Päevaleht, is to pay the people willing to take on responsible and intensive positions a sufficient wage.
The paper concludes by saying that hopefully the recent scandal brings forth solutions in government and the Riigikogu, allowing all parents, especially mothers, to better manage their work-life balance.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste