SDE leader: Prime minister resignation spells end of marriage referendum

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SDE chairman Indrek Saar. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Social Democratic Party (SDE) chair Indrek Saar says that the resignation of Jüri Ratas (Center) as prime minister, which in turn means the end of the current coalition, means those Center MPs opposed to a referendum on the definition of marriage can now vote against it more easily.

Appearing on ETV morning show "Terevisioon" Wednesday morning, Saar said: "A common front we shared with the Reform Party in opposing a socially divisive referendum has been a good job well done. It is now clear that the referendum will not now be held in its current format."

"There are no longer 51 votes (the number required at the 101-seat Riigikogu for a majority – ed.) in favor of the bill. If the Center Party no longer has the motivation to hold on to the prime ministerial position at any cost, then not all their MPs will vote for [the bill] any more," he went on.

Saar added that the proposed referendum, which passed its first bill reading before Christmas but has since foundered ahead of its second reading, will continue to be dogged by legal considerations for a long time going forward.

Saar said: "Coalition members said that what happened at the Constitutional Affairs Committee was illegal, but still voted in favor [of the bill]. I hope it is a lesson that will be nailed to the Riigikogu wall, so that no one ever does that again."

The two opposition parties, along with a few coalition MPs, tabled over 9,000 proposed amendments to the bill, which prompted the Riigikogu's Constitutional Affairs Committee chair Anti Poolamets (EKRE) to limit MPs floor time on presenting their proposals to a few minutes, via a remote video link and utilizing a mic mute button if MPs overran their allotted time. This in turn prompted protests from opposition MPs. The bill had been due to come before the Riigikogu Wednesday; Jüri Ratas tendered his resignation in the small hours of the same day, following an investigation into alleged corruption in providing a €39-million state loan to a Tallinn real estate development.

Saar, who attended a meeting President Kersti Kaljulaid had called Tuesday to Thursday with all party and Riigikogu group leaders in an effort to resolve the marriage referendum impasse, told "Terevisioon" that one of the main tasks of a new government would be to restore mutual respect in society.

Isamaa Riigikogu group chair Priit Sibul told "Terevisioon" the issue of protests against the constitutional affairs committee, and the vote on the referendum bill, would be discussed at the Riigikogu nevertheless.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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