Center Party leader and outgoing prime minister Jüri Ratas says his resignation early Wednesday means that the coalition of the Center Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa is over. Ratas added that now is not the time for hanging around on setting up its replacement.
Ratas told ERR that: "I think it is quite clear that the coalition which consisted of EKRE, Isamaa and Center will not continue in today's political landscape."
Ratas added that the coronavirus crisis and major economic and financial decisions that need to be made as a result means that the situation is not normal in Estonia, but that there was no room for delaying.
Ratas added he hoped a new coalition would be convened as soon as possible, one which could be as broad as possible and one which Center could potentially be in, just as the party could also end up in opposition.
Former education minister Mailis Reps (Center) ruled out being in office with EKRE – a party which Reform and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) have also shunned – and EKRE leader and outgoing finance minister Martin Helme said Wednesday afternoon that his party would most likely end up in opposition.
Ratas resigned following revelations that Center's secretary-general Mihhail Korb, along with businessman Hillar Teder and Kersti Kracht, adviser to Martin Helme at the finance ministry, were under an Internal Security Service (ISS) investigation, as was the Center Party itself and two other unnamed individuals, suspected of corruption with regard to a €39-million loan from state credit agency KredEx towards the Porto Franco real estate development in Tallinn.
Kersti Kaljulaid invited Kaja Kallas, leader of the Reform Party, to head up and form the next coalition Wednesday, an offer she had made following the March 2019 general election.
Ratas and Martin Helme's concessions likely pave the way for Kallas to become next prime minister. Ratas will however remain as de facto caretaker prime minister during the transitional period.
Editor: Andrew Whyte