Reform should stick with Kaja Kallas as party leader and prime minister, and she should lead the party into the 2023 Riigikogu election despite issues surrounding its handling of the Covid pandemic, MP Kristen Michal says. Michal added that he has not designs on the Reform Party leadership himself.
"Let me tell you right away, I am not going to run for party leader," Michal told ERR, appearing on the "Otse uudistemajast" webcast.
While the Reform party is good in a clinch, Michal said, the question is whether voters will recognize that for its worth, he added, and said that changes needed making at cabinet level.
"I would recommend changes at the government level, including policy discussions," he said.
The recent decline in support for the Reform Party was due mainly to the ongoing pandemic and the government's handling of it, which he said had note always seen the right decisions.
"People's expectations for government and health crisis management were higher," Michal said.
"Most likely at least I would have assumed that some things could have been done differently and that the steps in this crisis could have been bolder. My straight-up question is at what point it would have been right for [health minister] Tanel Kiik to go to another job."
Kiik's party and Reform's partner in office, Center, also came in focus, with Michal saying he found Center's leader, Jüri Ratas, who is not a member of the government and in fact is Riigikogu speaker, has interfered too much.
"I think the problem lies in a situation where the chairman of the partner party is taking a back seat in the parliament, and not in the government."
"I think Kaja Kallas has said several times that Jüri Ratas is welcome in the cabinet. In my opinion, the government would work better if the decision-makers are at the table," Michal continued.
The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Eesti 200 are likely on a collision course ahead of the 2023 Riigikogu elections, Michal added, which may bring changes to the political landscape, while reiterating his statement that Reform does not need to start looking for a new prime minister or party leader.
Kallas has also seen sustained criticism via the media from one of her predecessors as prime minister, Andrus Ansip, now an MEP.
Michal: Expectations for new Tallinn coalition are high
Michal, who is also Reform's leader at Tallinn city council chambers – MPs can also hold local councilor seats, and around half of them do – said he did not see the October 17 local election results in Tallinn as bad from Reform's perspective, since it achieved the goal of ending Center's exclusive power in the capital.
Center is now in coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SDE).
Michal said he had high expectations for the coalition agreement, though said he would expect SDE to be bolder in stating those things which must be carried out immediately – including its desire to scrap a project for a Tallinn "main street" (which would involve developing the existing thoroughfare of Pärnu mnt, from the Vabaduse väljak crossroads, through to Narva mnt as far as the Jõe/Pronksi intersection.
Michal said SDE, which entered office earlier this month, had not implemented either this or the pledge to abolish kindergarten's fees.
He also said he would have liked to see his SDE counterpart in Tallinn city council chambers, Raimond Kaljulaid, in office in Tallinn, and said that the lengthy coalition talks may have been made lengthier still as a result of discussions on this issue.
Editor: Andrew Whyte