Politicians reject media reports of Center-led coup against Reform

Jaanus Karilaid (Center).
Jaanus Karilaid (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Political party leaders have rejected claims that the Center Party is moving to oust Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and replace the current Reform-Center coalition with one containing current opposition parties the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, in effect resurrecting the coalition line-up which was in office until January 2021.

Speaking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Wednesday, Jaanus Karilaid, Center's deputy chair and one of the leaders named in the Eesti Ekspress piece making the allegations, said that: "Perhaps someone has some fears and maybe a bit of paranoia; this is no surprise in politics. So you would have to ask the rumor mongers."

Of Center's existing coalition partner, Karilaid said: "I hope we can get along better with the Reform Party. We're not happy, that much is clear. Undoubtedly, foreign policy is number one, but the number one problem must also be Estonia's societal problems and how people can cope."

Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) deputy chair Henn Põlluaas said that Reform was behind the rumors, in an effort to divert attention from key issues.

Põlluaas told AK that: "The increase in their support is actually due to the current great increase in people's emotions about the war in Ukraine, the war refugees whom everyone wants to help. Against this background, the activities of the Reform Party seem very beautiful and noble, when the prime minister gets to travel around the world and meets the other mighty ones."

Reform itself says the opposition is upset by the fact that the prime minister's party has made correct and quick decisions on security, and has been ahead of the curve.

Mart Võrklaev, Reform's Riigikogu whip, said: "The Reform Party has been a very strong decision-maker during the security crisis, and when we saw a proactive decision made by the government in January, [the energy bill payment support measure of] €380 million, there were so many opposition voices accusing the Reform Party at that moment point to the effect that we were diverting attention from the energy crisis. But we had seen from the predictions that war could come in Europe."

Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder, reiterated his earlier statements that he had not been involved in the supposed plan, but added that the move might make sense and that Isamaa would do many things differently from the current administration.

Seeder said: "I think this plan and undertaking is to be commended if we want to work to replace the current government. That would be right, because we have been seeing that the current government is not capable of acting, and the prime minister is essentially not leading this team."

Eesti Ekspress stated in its editorial that (link in Estonian) that Center leader Jüri Ratas had done a deal with the EKRE and Isamaa leadership last weekend, though the latter's leader denied that that had happened.

Had the plan come to fruition, a vote of no-confidence in Kaja Kallas as prime minister would already have gone ahead earlier this week, Eesti Ekspress claimed.

Ratas told ERR that the article was pure speculation, without denying that any such machinations had been going on.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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