Reps: In Center's interest to form coalition with Reform and Isamaa
The Center Party is interested in forming a coalition with Reform - but only if Isamaa is also involved, deputy Center Party chairman Mailis Reps has said. She also said the party does not want to continue working with EKRE in its current form.
Speaking on Wednesday afternoon about a future coalition, Reps, who is leading negotiations for the party, said: "It would be in our interest to join the Reform Party if Isamaa is in it. We have had constructive and good cooperation with Isamaa in the current coalition and there is no reason to betray our coalition partner. Therefore, we want to join a coalition where we can take our coalition partner with us."
A coalition of Center, Reform and Isamaa would be surprising as Center and Reform have 59 seats between them and so do not need additional members to get a majority. With the addition of Isamaa, the potential government would have 71 seats. This would leave the opposition parties EKRE and the Social Democratic Party with 30 seats between them.
However, if the coalition had 71 seats and it would be able to elect a president as this requires two-thirds of MPs to support a candidate, which is 68 members.
Reps also denied she is to become the Center Party's prime ministerial candidate. "This is not true," Reps said, when directly asked, adding she is only leading negotiations.
"When a coalition is formed with the Reform Party, they will say who the prime minister is. The parliamentary logic is not that the candidate should come from the Center Party," Reps added.
Reps also said the Reform Party has been extremely honest in recent hours.
"Their interest has been to discuss with the Center Party what the coalition's options are," Reps said, saying that she had not yet sat down for discussions with Reform chairman Kaja Kallas.
Center does not want to work with EKRE
Reps said the Center Party has told EKRE it does not want to continue the three-party coalition in its current form.
"Our cooperation with [EKRE] has been a bit bumpy. We have not closed the door once and for all, but we have not agreed that we will continue in the same coalition," Reps said.
She said that several members of the Central Party are fed up with EKRE's scandals.
When asked, if the coalition with EKRE was to continue, would the marriage referendum take place? She answered in one word: "No!"
She clarified the purpose of the referendum had been to reassure society, but instead it had created a split and said there were serious concerns it could lead to violence.
Helme admits EKRE may fall into opposition
Chairman of EKRE Martin Helme confirmed told journalists at lunchtime on Wednesday the party may end up in the opposition.
He said the Center Party and EKRE had a possible agreement over the marriage referendum in the morning, but not by the afternoon.
He also thinks the Center Party may have already had a plan to end the coalition with EKRE and Isamaa.
Yesterday, Helme questioned the timing of the Porto Franco financial allegations, wondering why they had come the day before the Riigkogu's final vote on the marriage referendum.
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Editor: Helen Wright