Editorials: Kaja Kallas' political coming-of-age and what to do with Center

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Editorials in Estonia's major dailies, Thursday, January 14 2021. Source: ERR

Major newspapers in Estonia have, in their editorials, reacted to Jüri Ratas' resignation early on Wednesday morning with a sense that it was the right thing to do, though they differ on whether the Center Party should be part of the new coalition. It is also now-or-never for Reform leader Kaja Kallas as the next prime minister of Estonia, the papers say.

(All links in Estonian).

Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) ran an editorial with the headline "Kaja Kallas' coming-of-age-test takes place," which, as the title might suggest, focuses on the Reform chair's abilities as potential new prime minister and head of government, but also makes the point that if Kallas is unable to form a new coalition this time around, her political career, at least as Reform's leader, will be over.

Kallas stepped back as an MEP in order to take on the role in 2018.

EPL also said that Center's Mailis Reps' apparent taking up the reins of her party, and giving the seal of approval to Kaja Kallas (as has, in a more muted form, Jüri Ratas – ed.) means the Reform leader has a good chance of passing her "test".

EPL and other Ekspress Meedia publications are generally liberal on social issues.

The more conservative Postimees expressed surprise on how Center are still being seen as a viable partner in the new coalition despite a fresh round of investigations into its financial dealings adding to an existing suspended sentence, after receiving an illegal donation.

Postimees noted that if what Center had been involved in were to be translated to an individual, then that individual would be facing real jail time and the consequent loss of reputation, compared with little more than a fine, followed by continuing in office, for Center.

Evening tabloid Õhtuleht followed a similar line, by saying that it was not going to be too gushing in its praise of Jüri Ratas in stepping down, given the latest Internal Security Services (ISS) investigation into the party. Continuing in office in that situation would be too hard to credit, the paper said, adding that it is in Estonia's interests during a pandemic that a new government be formed as soon as possible

Õhtuleht also noted that it was make-or-break time for Kaja Kallas, given this is her second chance to form a coalition (the first one followed the March 2019 general election, where Reform emerged the largest party by seats – ed.).

Business daily Äripäev strikes a different tone, calling a Reform-Isamaa-Social Democratic Party lineup the best option going forward.

This coalition would mean a return to the days of Taavi Rõivas' premiership, at least in terms of parties, but is prompted by the untrustworthiness of Center and also that of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) – also caught up in the Porto Franco controversy via finance minstry adviser Kersti Kracht, one of the five suspects in the investigation – as well as EKRE's social divisiveness.

Agricultural weekly Maaleht says that it had been refreshing to see Jüri Ratas was not Teflon-coated by any stretch, having reached the point where even one more week in office was impossible.

The publication also hoped for a newer, fresher and calmer brand of politics, going forward.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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