Isamaa chairman: The government's first steps with covid were controversial

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Helir-Valdor Seeder. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Chairman of the Isamaa Party MP Helir Valdor-Seeder told ETV's political interview show "Esimene stuudio" on Wednesday that the current government's first steps with establishing coronavirus restrictions in spring were controversial and easing them needs to be looked at carefully.

Seeder noted that he would have also extended restrictions if he were prime minister but easing restrictions needs to be approached carefully. "You need to be prepared so that we would not take these steps unexpectedly, unsystematically and without consideration," the Isamaa chairman said.

Seeder said he expected a more specific plan for how to manage the coronavirus from the new government as Reform seemed to have a plan when they were still in opposition. "The first steps taken were easing restrictions and then suddenly establishing strict restrictions weeks later. So these controversial steps obviously showed that the new government, looking back at it, made complicated and controversial first steps," Seeder said.

He said easing restrictions for vaccinated people is a difficult topic. Although he generally supports allowing vaccinated people more freedom, he does not support dividing people up based on vaccination certificates. "Differentiating people, especially based on vaccinations in this situation where a lot of people are queued up and they have good will and a desire to get vaccinated but cannot - whether procurements have not arrived yet or there is confusion with vaccinating - they would be placed in a considerably worse society than others. We must find a balance here," Seeder said.

The Isamaa political group wishes for the government to make cuts adding up to around €50 million. "Our proposal is certainly not to achieve a balance in the budget in this crisis situation and begin thinning out the country, we are speaking of cuts in terms of canceled costs. There will likely not be mass events in Estonia, no foreign trips for some time and economic costs in state agencies are significantly lower. If it does not bring a cent of savings and is not reflected in the budget, it is not normal," Seeder said.

He told show host Johannes Tralla that cuts must be made in sectors where costs are lower and the cuts should be directed at healthcare, where needs are greater. He noted that the state sees costs coming in terms of the pension reform but is not showing any income.

Speaking of his party's low ratings, barely crossing the electoral threshold, Seeder said Isamaa has worked on real policy and made decisions in difficult times. The pension reform is not to grab votes, but to give people the right to decide on their accumulated assets.

"Isamaa being on the threshold has been a topic throughout Isamaa's history," he said, highlighting elections in 1995, 2003 and 2019. "It will exceed [the threshold]. Isamaa is forever."

Seeder said competition within the party is normal and the raising popularity of the Parempoolsed (Right-wingers) association formed within the Isamaa Party will not cause a power shift. "I find it completely normal that there are different opinions in a democratically led party. But what I would want is for the discussions to remain in the party and not go through the media or journalism," the Isamaa chair said.

He said the party is campaigning to introduce the pension reform as a victory and not to compete within the party. "Today, we are all focused on this extraordinary situation and we will not be able to organize an Isamaa Assembly this spring. We will organize the assembly first chance we get, competition is normal," Seeder said.

The party leader said that he has not decided if he will run for party chairman again, but a proposal has been made and he is considering it.

Seeder noted that internal elections need to be conducted before local elections in fall as otherwise, the party would not be able to focus on both. "I want the assembly to take place before local elections rather than taking place during elections," the party chair told "Esimene stuudio".

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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