Isamaa Party chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder said tensions between Center and EKRE in the coalition were running high and the corruption scandal just accelerated the collapse of the government.
"Everyone who has been in politics expected the government to change. If the corruption scandal was unexpected, then tensions in coalition were running high and have grown between Center and EKRE for some time. Actually, Center and Reform begun feeling each other out some time ago and the change would have come either way. Thanks to the corruption scandal, the process began earlier," Seeder told ETV's morning show "Terevisioon" on Thursday morning.
According to Seeder, Center's discussion of involving Isamaa in the new coalition union was theoretical and it would not have worked well in practice. He did add that Center gave out a clear signal on Wednesday that the current coalition of Center-EKRE-Isamaa would continue with only the prime minister changing.
"But it turns out it was just a tactic and a message to Reform that there is an alternative and they must make a quick decision in favor of Center. But that would not have been necessary as Reform's first choice was Center and discussions were taking place long before the scandal," Seeder said.
The Isamaa leader admitted that the coalition was not operating well. "I sincerely doubt the referendum bill would have gathered enough votes in Riigikogu if the coalition had continued. The coalition was shaky on several sides," Seeder noted.
While the media also pointed out a possible so-called old union of Reform, Isamaa and Social Democratic Party, Seeder says Reform did not show any initative.
"I have not communicated with Kaja Kallas (Reform Party chairwoman and next prime minister - ed.) during the formation of this coalition. In 2019, it was Reform's own choice of remaining in opposition. They did not expression a clear desire to different parties and tried fishing on many lines. Now they have learned from their mistake and acted quickly," Seeder noted.
The Isamaa leader said Center decided to switch up government partners in order to escape the corruption scandal. "The prime minister resigning and a government change is notable. But the knowledge of corruption scandals not having much effect on party support is important to politicians. Let's look at the Center Party's long-time support for example. And it also affects party behavior, that the public does not consider corruption important," he said.
What will happen to Isamaa and Seeder himself? He said he does not plan on stepping down as party chairman and plans to run for the position again. "We have been in both opposition and coalition and we will be back in coalition in some time. Yes, the party is looking at chairman and leadership elections. I have always become chairman through competition. It will probably go that way this spring and party members will have a choice of nominees," Seeder said.
He added that the coming year will not only be difficult to Isamaa, but for all parties regardless of their belonging to the coalition or opposition, as two elections are coming up - presidential (August-September) and local municipality government (October).
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste