Chairman of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE), Minister of Finance Martin Helme does not rule out a new coalition between recent partners in an interview to ERR. At the same time, he considers it possible that the marriage referendum vote in the Riigikogu will be canceled.
While Center Party politicians seemed convinced the coalition would break apart last night, they were less sure by 10 a.m. today. What do you think?
I would first say that Jüri Ratas taking political responsibility was a statesmanlike thing to do and will help clear the air to some extent. That in turn bodes well for the possibility that a change of government might not mean a change of coalition – the two are not automatically linked. We have quite a lot of common ground and cooperation has been constructive, despite what has been seen and suggested from the outside. Therefore, I believe there is willingness in EKRE to try and move forward with the same coalition.
Has Center told you that the marriage referendum vote in the Riigikogu scheduled for today needs to be postponed?
They have not, while the agenda of the Riigikogu and the government is suspended right now. Considering how narrow our majority was going into the vote, postponing it might not be a bad thing.
Are you prepared to draw up a new coalition agreement as the current government has resigned?
Yes, I believe that every complicated situation is also an opportunity and the latter need to be seized. Revisiting the coalition agreement and ministerial positions is not something I would rule out.
Is the marriage referendum a priority for you and something you would not give up in a new coalition agreement?
Both direct democracy and protection of the traditional family and marriage have always been priorities for us and that is not likely to change in any coalition or in the opposition. It is an ideological cornerstone for us. However, it makes no sense for me to engage in negotiations via the media. Our recent partners know full well how important this matter is for us.
Let us also talk about [Helme's adviser] Kersti Kracht who was detained following suspicions of corruption on Tuesday. When did you learn of her detainment? What happened after?
I learned of it yesterday, at 10 in the morning.
How and where did it happen? Was Kracht detained at work?
No, she did not come in to work. I believe it is best if Kracht gives her own explanations as I have not had the chance to speak to her in recent days. So far, we have only heard from the prosecution and heard very little. We should listen to the other side before taking a stand.
She is a member of the Tallinn city council and quite an influential EKRE member – what will happen to those positions?
See my previous answer. What will happen to her depends on the course of the investigation. I mentioned yesterday (Tuesday – ed.) that the timing of these events is rather strange. I would say it has been very effective. Looking back, there is a pattern of major investigative action in critical political situations that then dies down.
EKRE has held the internal affairs portfolio for close to two years now. How is it possible you have not gotten these alleged acts of sabotage by certain organs under control?
First, I would point out that this whole thing is being run from the prosecution. And this description serves as confirmation that people who believe government parties can somehow influence investigative organs are indeed mistaken. Thirdly, Donald Trump was president [of the United States] for four years and could not defeat all manner of covert state agencies. The situation is far more complex than it looks.
Coming back to negotiations. What are the chances of the recent coalition continuing?
There is no way to calculate that. How did Matti Nykanen put it – fifty-sixty. Politics never ends nor is it ever boring.
Can you promise that everything will be calm and there will be no protests should you be forced to leave the government? It is clear your supporters will be very cross as today was supposed to be a great day for them, while everything seems as though it has collapsed now…
Street protests are a part of democracy as we were told throughout the summer unrest in the States. However, I cannot see how this is even relevant seeing as we are not the reason the government resigned.
Editor: Marcus Turovski