Prime minister approaches SDE, Isamaa leaders on potential coalition talks
Leaders of two of Estonia's opposition parties have received overtures from Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) to form-up a new coalition, following Kallas' dismissal of junior coalition partner Center, with one of the parties, the Social Democrats (SDE) warmer to the idea in their statements so far, than the other party, Isamaa.
SDE chair Lauri Läänemets, told ERR that he had spoken to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) on Thursday, adding that the Reform Party was now awaiting his party to formally propose coalition talks.
The SDE leader said that he agrees with the prime minister's statement that Estonia needs a well-functioning government, which is "Estonia-centric and pro-European."
"There is no need for a hesitant government," he said.
Although the Reform Party has not yet made a formal proposal to his party, Läänemets says he believes that at some point that will be forthcoming, after which the party's board will convene to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, Helir-Valdor Seeder, leader of Isamaa, also in opposition, said Friday that the party was ready to negotiate with all those parties who had received parliamentary mandates, though qualified that he was concerned about the way in which the prime minister had disbanded the Reform-Center coalition.
Seeder said: "The correct constitutional order has it that if the coalition collapses, the prime minister resigns, and the president will then nominate someone who is likely to be able to form a functioning government and get a parliamentary mandate."
"Next, the Riigikogu will approve the candidate for prime minister, and a new government can be formed. At the moment, this process is also being avoided ... while this ignorance of the parliament has gone on for a long time," he went on.
Following an announcement that she was dismissing the Center Party from the coalition she heads up – almost immediately making the trip from Toompea to Kadriorg to propose President Alar Karis formally dissolve the coalition, which he duly did, his office says – Prime Miister Kallas contacted both Läänemets and Seeder, with a proposal of starting talks on forming a new governing coalition.
Seeder has convened a joint meeting of the Isamaa board and its 12 Riigikogu MPs for Monday.
Seeder says he has not received a proposal from Center chair Jüri Ratas to commence coalition negotiations between the two parties and involving the other opposition party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).
At the same time he did not rule out such an offer coming in later, and did not rule out any theoretical coalition alignment – a similar line to that taken in an interview given to ERR earlier on Friday.
A coalition needs 51 or more seats at the 101-seat Riigikogu to have a workable majority.
Reform has 34 seats, Isamaa 12 and SDE has nine, to which independent MP Raimon d Kaljulaid, who generally votes with the party, could be added.
Center has 26 seats, EKRE 19.
The news comes after weeks of speculation over the Reform-Center coalition's future, with the two parties stymieing each other's bills – respectively to boost family benefits (tabled by Center) and to reform the kindergarten sector (from Reform).
Four SDE MPs also subsequently withdrew their support for the family benefits bill.
President Alar Karis had on more than one occasion called for a unified, functioning coalition given the current security and energy picture.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte