SDE leader: Party is not a stop-gap coalition option ahead of elections
The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) has no intention of deputizing for the Center Party in coalition with Reform, as a stop gap until next year's general election, the party's leader, Lauri Läänemets, says.
Läänements said that: "We certainly have options to search for and find common ground with the Reform Party, but there have not been any conversations or sounding out yet. The Social Democrats are ready to take responsibility and bear it if necessary, but work and politics must have substance; we are not going to simply act as the spare wheel until the elections."
However, Läänemets said he understood Reform's position.
"We all know what the possible options are for the present coalition, and we have already experienced one in the form of a past coalition. It would be irresponsible for the Reform Party not to consider alternatives, as not doing so would pave the way for EKRE's to return to government," he added.
Läänemets added that his party opted to sign the draft bill amending the Child and Family Benefits Act, as in so doing it spotted a real opportunity to do something in this area. "If we can do something for children in this difficult price increase situation, it must be done," he said.
EKRE leader: Center ministers not fighters, prime minister a dilettante 'war princess'
Leader of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) Martin Helme, also in opposition, had criticism for both parties.
Speaking to ERR, he said: "Let's break up and go into opposition - that's what both sides seem to be saying. There's no way to overcome crises there anymore. That government could fall apart."
This did not mean that either party had approached EKRE, Helme added.
"Are there any moves towards forming a new governing coalition? If so, we will not be involved. No one will visit me," Helme added.
While Helme referred to Kaja Kallas as a political dilettante and a "war princess who has got her wings", he also condemned Center's ministers as not being fighters, and simply being in government out of comfort, though stopped short of criticizing ´Jüri Ratas by name.
Center is also becoming increasingly desperate ahead of next year's general election, while the party did not succeed in getting any big entries included in the supplementary budget issued in response to the security crisis, he added.
Isamaa leader: No serious coalition negotiations for past 18 months
The leader of the other opposition party, Isamaa, called the situation a "sad reality" which dated back to the birth of the Reform-Center alignment in office.
Helir-Valdor Seeder also said that Kaja Kallas has not been a good prime minister, while at the same time has had to deputize for even less effective ministers from both parties. "Rather, the prime minister has occasionally performed the duties of other members of the cabinet - who have proved weaker than expected. I'm referring to the foreign minister and the defense minister."
Seeder denied having any designs on being in coalition at any price, should the current administration cave-in, but did not rule out being in coalition either
"There have been no serious negotiations to form a new coalition here in the past year-and-a-half," he said, adding that any talk to the contrary was just fiction.
Prime minister and Reform's leader, Kaja Kallas, said on Thursday that if the bill would pass into law around the time of Jaanipäev – midsummer - then the current government would cease to function and then the Reform Party will make efforts to form a new coalition with SDE and Isamaa.
The prime minister also said that Center was attempting to recreate the coalition it was in with the far-right Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, by tabling the bill without consulting its current coalition partner, Reform.
The law would raise monthly child benefits to €100 per child plus €700 per month for those with three to six dependent children.
While MPs from Center, SDE, Isamaa and EKRE all added their signatures to the bill, none of Reform's did; the party's chief whip Mart Võrklaev said Thursday that the provisions the bill would put in place were due to be discussed in tandem with the state budget discussions, which take place in the fall.
Center's leader, Jüri Ratas, said that Kallas' words endangered the coalition's ongoing survival.
The next general election is on March 5 2023.
This article was updated to include reaction from the EKRE and Isamaa leadership.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte