Reform MP: Isamaa doesn't want to be in coalition with us
A coalition involving both the Reform Party and Isamaa is off the table at the latter's behest, Reform MP and the party's deputy chair, Jürgen Ligi, says.
"The signs are that the Isamaa does not want Reform in office," Ligi told Vikerraadio talk show "Vikerhommik" Thursday morning, adding that Reform would have to form a coalition with Center only, in order to ensure the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is not in office.
"Since Isamaa does not want to join a government with the Reform Party, Reform has no choice but to form a coalition with the Center Party, since it is important to remove the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) from power," Ligi, a former finance minister, went on.
"Estonia's main requirement right now is to get rid of EKRE, if I can say personally, brutally."
Following Jüri Ratas' resignation as prime minister early Wednesday morning, President Kersti Kaljulaid has invited Reform leader Kaja Kallas to create the next coalition.
A tri-partite coalition with Reform, Center and Isamaa would not have functioned, Ligi added, given the worldview differences Isamaa has with Reform and Center which would eventually come out, and would lead to a "two against one" situation in the coalition.
Isamaa was last in office with Reform, together with the Social Democratic Party (SDE), under Taavi Rõivas' premiership. A deal between Isamaa, SDE and Center saw Rõivas ousted, in November 2016, with Reform replaced by Center and Jüri Ratas becoming prime minister – a lineup which lasted until the March 2019 general election, though in its final months, a minority government at the 101-seat Riigikogu.
Isamaa and EKRE have much in common, Ligi went on.
"As yesterday's (Wednesday's debate on the now-scrapped marriage referendum bill – ed.) Riigikogu session showed, [Isamaa leader] Helir-Valdor Seeder and [Isamaa Rigiikogu group leader] Priit Sibul share EKRE views and customs strongly," Ligi added.
Isamaa was split on the issue of the marriage definition referendum bill, with several of its MPs declaring their opposition to it late last year. However, MPs Heiki Hepner, Aivar Kokk, Tarmo Kruusimäe, Andres Metsoja and Sven Sester voted in its favor on Wednesday evening, along with Sibul and Seeder, and all 19 EKRE MPs. The bill, however, failed to pass.
Reform and Center together have 59 seats, meaning they are not reliant on Isamaa to get a majority in the chamber. Isamaa has held several key ministries through the last administration, including the foreign, defense and justice ministries.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte