President Karis: During a crisis, Estonia needs a functioning coalition
While Estonia still has a government, it does not have a functioning coalition, President Alar Karis says. At the same time, only a functioning coalition can perform the necessary task of governing, not least during a major security and energy crisis, he added.
In an announcement published on the president's website Thursday, the head of state said: "Estonia has reached an era of government without coalition. The coalition has disintegrated, while government itself is still active."
"[News portal] Delfi recalled what I said in my speech on February 24 (Estonian independence day – ed.) that 'the fixed capital of a politician should be their trustworthiness, credibility, and expertise', and inquired how the government and the Riigikogu could do be doing so, in the context of this sentence."
"The answer was provided by the Riigikogu on the evening of June 1, when one coalition party, together with an opposition party, voted against a government-approved basic education bill," President Karis continued, referring to a Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) proposal to strike off the kindergarten reform bill, a proposal which passed after Center MPs generally voted with it and against their coalition partner, the Reform Party.
"After this, it seems superfluous to recall the violent X of the two government parties over the increase in child and family benefits," the president added, referencing the pre-existing sticking point between the two parties – in this case, Center tabled the bill, to hike family benefits, while Reform have now filibustered it via over 2,000 amendment proposals.
"We do not have time to settle accounts and find culprits. Let those interested in recent history deal with that later. Estonia now needs a governing coalition, as soon as possible, characterized by a will to decide and the ability to make decisions."
"Together with NATO and EU allies, Estonia is in the midst of the worst security crisis in decades, whither Russian aggression against Ukraine has led us. Our energy security must be set aside here, as it is too early to talk about it."
"In three or four months' time, we will likely see socio-economic problems escalate, with electricity, district heating and gas bills once again putting many people in a difficult position and raising the question of how they can cope on a daily basis. It is clear that it is also necessary to decide where to cover the rising budget costs," the president continued, referring to the soaring energy prices since last fall and inflation as a whole."
"There is a lot of work to be done, both in the government and in the Riigikogu. And no one can do that work for them."
"I have spoken to the leaders of parliamentary parties in recent days, and ascertained that they all understand the depth of the government crisis and have begun to find solutions."
"Considering the strengths of the Riigikogu, the Reform Party or the Center Party can form a coalition. It is still the first opportunity for both of them to come to terms with each other and then go to the parliamentary elections together."
" However, if there is no mutual desire to do so, neither of them need to be ashamed to talk to other parliamentary parties, in order to find partners for a new ruling coalition."
"I hope that the parliamentary parties will reach a result of mutual consultations, one which will bring back to Estonia a coalition and a government that can carry out the work of the state administration with full responsibility."
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Editor: Andrew Whyte