Jaanus Karilaid: Support for families with children not a coup

Jaanus Karilaid.
Jaanus Karilaid. Source: ERR/ Hege-Lee Paiste

Supporting families with children is not a coup attempt but rather an anticipated and logical step in light of a serious cost of living crisis, Center Party whip Jaanus Karilaid writes.

Tension on the Estonian political landscape follows attempts to pick up the pace. The Center Party wants decisions to support people now, while the Reform Party is trying to postpone solving problems until fall at all cost. However, it is a fact that Estonia has 260,000 children and giving them certainty is also a part of security. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also running his country while fighting a war, including solving the social crisis.

We are looking at a very difficult fall-winter in terms of subsistence. Estonia has not seen price advance this rapid since the 1990s and has it the fastest in the region. At least four Riigikogu parties want to contribute to people weathering the price crisis that tends to hit those making modest salary and families with children (including single mothers) the hardest.

Last week, the Reform Party introduced a proposal in the Tallinn city council of boosting pensioners' subsistence benefit by €200. They are also busy preparing for elections, which Center does not consider a manifestation of populism. But next to pensioners, we must also think of young people. Reform's subsistence benefits policy seems to be based on the simple fact that, unlike children, pensioners can vote.

Estonia is still suffering from the syndrome where our leaders being praised abroad tends to take precedence over matters of the people's coping. It has been the Reform Party's style to use praise from the West as an excuse not to address sharp social issues. In this, Kaja Kallas' government is no different from Andrus Ansip's back in the day.

The Riigikogu has always been accused of serving as a rubber stamp for the government, while the few and far between initiatives that do come from the parliament are quickly labeled "coup attempts."

Supporting families with children does not constitute a coup but rather an anticipated and logical step in light of a serious cost of living crisis. Rather, it would be peculiar if we didn't try to address the problem. The Reform Party's despair could be sincere in that we have pointed to a pain spot.

Mapping the inner cosmos of Center Party leader Jüri Ratas has become a media trend. According to a view fostered by the press, everyone knows what Jüri Ratas feels and what makes him tick. But the Center Party is not Jüri Ratas, and Estonian parliamentarism is not the latest fancy that strikes him. It is our constitutional order that authorizes the Riigikogu to introduce initiatives.

Supporting the [Ukraine] no-fly zone initiative also came from the Riigikogu and saw support from the ruling parties, even though it lacked the government's seal of approval. Was that a coup attempt too?

Kaja Kallas has done good work on the international arena, but sweeping subsistence problems under the rug of the war is hardly in Reform's interest in the long run. They pulled a grimace of pain because we hit a soft spot, while making sure Estonian people have a social safety net is more important than pointing to Kallas' Achilles' heel.

Kind words and high-resolution photos are not enough. The Estonian people need material help. Neither Vladimir Putin nor Volodymyr Zelenskyy have given our prime minister a mandate to stifle debate or continue with outdated policies and fine-tuning. Countries make bold decisions at times of war because the circumstances warrant it.

The entire world is borrowing and only our political landscape is seeing grumbles and inaction to leave young people without a place to live (axing the rental apartment buildings program) and just looking on as families with children find it increasingly difficult to cope. It is not sensible. Let us make good decisions before Midsummer Day. Let us not wait until fall.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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