The Center Party and the Social Democrats (SDE) signed a coalition agreement which will see the two parties govern Tallinn for the next four years. SDE gets the position of chair of the city council, one district elder and three deputy mayors under the terms of the agreement, while Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) remains mayor.
The deal follows two weeks of talks, after Center had narrowly missed out on winning enough seats at the October 17 local elections to continue the absolute majority at the city chambers for well over a decade.
Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) stays on as the capital's mayor, and said of the new alliance with SDE that: "Political agreements in city management are really a new approach now. Time will tell how it succeeds."
SDE's Tallinn city council leader Raimond Kaljulaid remained optimistic.
He said: "I think the expectation of the Estonian people is that nowadays politicians are able to overcome party contradictions and really work together towards the goals that the whole country faces. I would definitely like to see an effective city management team forming up in Tallinn."
The negotiations started just over a week after the October 17 local elections, and were conducted behind closed doors at several different venues, ERR reports, while, Kõlvart said, the details of the agreement cannot be made public till after the document has been signed.
Kõlvart said: "The agreement is almost ready to be signed, and if it is also approved by the parties' governing bodies, then we are also ready to carry it out officially."
Marek Reinaas, who ran in the capital with Eesti 200, polling 1,939 votes, criticized the closed-doors nature of the talks.
Reinaas said: "The fact that they do not sit in a press room from dawn till dusk, but instead sit at a negotiating table is in and of itself highly reasonable, but the city's citizens not being informed about the progress of the negotiations whatsoever, to my mind is not good negotiation practice."
Who will fill which posts on the city's administration is also still not known, ERR reports.
What has been reported is that the Center/SDE coalition plans to undertake the city budget as its first major issue. In any case, the 2022 budget would need to be drawn up soon, given that there are less than eight weeks left in 2021. Last year's budget was approved December 18 and came to €861.5 million.
The newcomer party, SDE, is stressing the development of a good business environment, where different fields are closely intertwined, so far as budget goes.
Raimond Kaljulaid said that: "Education is important, kindergartens are important, health care is important. There are many people who require social services, so this area is very important. Urban space is very significant, as is road safety and the functioning of public transport."
Kaljulaid also noted the complexities of politics in the capital, given its larger number of inhabitants, its influence nationwide and the size of its budget, which was the reason behind what he called through – and hence lengthy – coalition negotiations.
Not all municipalities nationwide have yet signed into effect their coalition deals either; the official electoral results are expected mid-November, following the resolution before the Supreme Court of half-a-dozen complaints, while councils have a week to take up their seats and start working, once those results are announced.
SDE likely to get three deputy mayors and two other leading roles
ERR reported Monday morning that SDE will be getting three deputy mayors (of six, each with their own area of responsibility), along with one district governor (of eight), and the post of city council chair.
One of the three SDE deputy mayoral posts will cover urban planning, culture and entrepreneurship, while the district which will see an SDE elder is to be Nõmme.
Center won 38 seats on October 17, two short of a majority on the 79-member council chamber, meaning it had to seek a coalition partner. It invited SDE to talks on Friday, October 22 and the negotiations started the following Monday.
Center announced Monday evening that its city deputies and those of SDE were ready to sign the coalition and that this would take place at 9.30 a.m. Tuesday.
This article was updated to include information on SDE's potential posts, and the gallery of the signing ceremony.
Editor: Andrew Whyte