Veteran Reform Party MP Valdo Randpere has hit out at criticism directed at Prime Minister Kaja Kallas by party-mate, MEP and former prime minister Andrus Ansip. Randpere says that Ansip has overstepped the mark and is involved in factionalism within the party, while one media channel has been trying to stir the pot on the controversy, he says.
Randpere, who has been an MP 12 years, told daily Postimees in a webcast that: "This is not about whether the peace of the party has been disturbed or preserved. What it is about is that one of the former chairs of a political party should not speak in this way, either with regard to the current chair, or with regard to the party as a whole."
"Andrus is excellent in demagoguery, but to use it so cynically now against his own party and against its chair is, for me, beyond the bounds of tolerance and, frankly, beyond the bounds of understanding why he is doing it. But in fact, I know why he does it," Randpere continued, saying that the reason was a power struggle between rival factions within the party and ahead of the March 2023 Riigikogu election.
"It may sound bad, but this is the way it is," Randpere continued.
"We also stand in elections to fight for power. Andrus Ansip is now taking part in a power struggle so that the side he likes could win, which could give him opportunities and benefits. That's how cynical it is. It would be naive to say that Andrus is doing something without having thought it through or without a purpose," Randpere added, nonetheless calling Ansip's actions foolish.
Ansip is not acting alone, but Randpere was not prepared to name his allies in the factionalisim.
At the same time, Randpere dismissed the narrative he said that portal Delfi, which posted the initial interview with Ansip which represented the opening salvo of the current battle, has created, one in which Reform's Riigikogu group does not support Kallas.
"They wanted to build a narrative about how the party does not support the prime minister - that's not true either," Randpere continued.
"It's true that there is at least one member in the party who is very critical for some reason. Those who have been in politics longer and are familiar with the inner workings of both Andrus and the party will understand why he is angry, but it is not a general disapproval or condemnation of Kaja or the government," Randpere continued.
Reform's Riigikogu group held an emergency meeting Friday, Randpere said, but did not express a lack of support for the prime minister, and did condemn Ansip's approach – in other words the oppposite of what has been reported.
Ansip has not changed his position since last Friday, when he referred to Kallas as a "Mõisapreili", a lady-of-leisure-type character which has been a staple of Estonian literature and culture, later doubling down in an interview with ERR in which he said that Kallas was not irreplaceable.
Ansip mentioned current education minister Liina Kersna, as well as Tallink CEO Paavo Nõgene, as potential candidates for the next Reform leader. Kersna herself said she was unaware of any discussions about Kallas' replacement.
Kallas: Ansip is 'being bad'
Kallas herself says that the former prime minister, in office 2005-2014, is "being bad."
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday morning which was mainly focused on the situation on the Belarus border, Kallas said that she had: "Read an interview with [composer] Sven Grünberg published [in Eesti Päevaleht] last week where he stated that mischief and evil comes to people as a result of the fact that they are bad. I also called [Ansip] to as why he was being bad," adding that no real answer to this question arose, and that, in the current crisis situation, she had more important things to deal with.
Editor: Andrew Whyte