Reform whip: Coalition over if agreements worth nothing

Mart Võrklaev, finance minister.
Mart Võrklaev, finance minister. Source: Patrik Tamm / ERR

If agreements no longer hold, the coalition has had its time. The Reform Party has made serious effort to facilitate its coalition partner's wishes in the last year and a half, even in cases where they have been voiced after mutual agreements, Mart Võrklaev writes.

Center Party leader Jüri Ratas revealed his party's plan on the "Esimene stuudio" talk show: to dismantle the current government and form a new coalition, likely with the Conservative People's Party (EKRE).

The outlines of the plan are evident in Center's actions from recent months. Working with opposition EKRE, they put together a plan of hastily pledging €300 million in fixed costs for hiking child benefits, again joined EKRE in voting down Reform's motion of not supporting the ill-considered plan yesterday (Thursday – ed.) and giving the matter more thought and, once more with EKRE, voted down a bill that would have obligated Russian kindergartens to use more Estonian (50 percent by 2027) on Wednesday.

Parties cannot be blamed for pursuing their political agenda. However, Jüri Ratas has tried to disguise his rekindled flame with EKRE by giving vague answers and appearing to want to help families. This blind man's bluff has been going on for almost a month, while the public has luckily seen it for what it is from the first.

In politics, a promise one keeps is the most valuable commodity. The Reform Party and Center Party made a promise to one another when they signed the coalition agreement: these are the things we will try to get done together.

Center's two recent moves: to back an opposition bill that will likely make it impossible to agree on a responsible state budget this fall and vote down the coalition agreement Estonian education bill that the government has supported, both break the agreement that Jüri Ratas and [Reform leader, PM] Kaja Kallas signed in the White Hall of the Riigikogu on January 27, 2021.

Once agreements no longer hold, the coalition has ended. The Reform Party has made serious effort to facilitate our coalition partner's wishes in the last year and a half, even in cases where they have been voiced after mutual agreements.

Allow me to recall that when the coalition agreement was signed, there were those who felt that the outcome looked more like Center than Reform. However, these steps have not been enough for our partner that has gone down the path of dismantling the coalition in the past month.

On Thursday evening, we learned of Center's new demands via television, as well as that Ratas has set about negotiating a new coalition despite what he has suggested before. Personally, and considering the interests of Center Party voters, I believe this has been a mistake, which sentiment I believe voices from within Center have repeated. But parties have to make their own political decisions in the end.

However, if the aim is to dismantle the coalition, it would be fair to come out and say it. As far as I know, Jüri Ratas is still emphasizing in private conversations how his plan is to stay in the current coalition. He should gather up his courage and admit what he told [host] Mirko Ojakivi and Kallas on "Esimene stuudio."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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