Faced with a choice between being a taxi driver and sitting in the Riigikogu, Center Party MP Martin Repinski has chosen the latter, for the meantime, and has pledged not to work for a well-known ride-hailing platform during Riigikogu business hours. Repinski, who had come under pressure over his moonlighting set-up, says he will concentrate on the day job and only pick up fares during down-time.
Repinski said Friday of his change of heart that: "I have spoken to [Center Party Riigikogu party group chair] Jaanus Karilaid and [Riigikogu speaker and Center Party chair] Jüri Ratas, who said that it would probably be wise to do so. It is the wish of both the Riigikogu group and the party as a whole. In their opinion, it was not ethical."
Ratas confirmed he had talked to the MP about the issue of ferrying passengers from A to B as maybe perhaps obstructing the workings of a national democratic legislature.
"Those who are elected to the Riigikogu must work on the assumption that this is their primary job," Ratas said.
"If they see an opportunity to engage in any other work, for example on local government councils, this must not come at the expense of the work of the Riigikogu, but must come in addition. I am I have spoken to Martin Repinski, and told him that I certainly do not support taxi driving during the sittings, and he has promised not to do so going forward," Ratas went on.
Repinski said that while he may continue taxi driving in his spare time – the chamber is in the final days of a four-week recess – he does not see it as a long-term career, adding he is more interested in entrepreneurship.
At the same time, picking up fares presented him with an opportunity to engage in conversations about politics, he added.
He is also undecided on whether he will run again for parliament, at the next general election in March 2023, he says, but will make the decision by year end.
Repinski said: "I have time to decide by January next year at the latest, somewhere when the party lists will be submitted. By then, a decision will need to have been made."
"Let's see how this year goes. By the end of the year, the picture will be clear," he added.
As to his second job, the MP said that media attention on it had meant that he was under further scrutiny at the Riigikogu and could now no longer easily duck out of sessions, including committee meetings. Earlier, he said, he had opted to drive the taxi during the less appealing sessions.
Not only fellow MPs but also journalists had picked up on the saga, he said, including on ERR's "Samost ja Aaspõllu" radio talk show, and added that it appeared that some jobs in society were valued more than others.
While Ratas would not be drawn on whether Repinski – briefly a government minister in Jüri Ratas' first cabinet in late 2016 – would be on Center's candidate list in March next year, he suggested that the MP had become jaded with politics.
"Martin has probably said to himself said that he is no longer as passionate about politics as he had been some time ago. In any case, this would mean that the mandate must be finished. He has not been spoken to about the elections," Ratas went on.
"Once this tale has played out, I would definitely like these people to take their candidacy for the Riigikogu very seriously, within the list of the Center Party, and to realize that if they are elected, this constitutes a very important position in Estonia," Ratas said.
Repinksi's ex-wife, Siret Kotka, is also a Center Party MP.
Editor: Andrew Whyte