Kaja Kallas' dismissal of Center Party ministers and her decision to remain in office has blown the cover on a coup plotted by opposition party Isamaa's leadership, to reinstate the coalition it was in with Center and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), Social Democrat (SDE) MP Jevgeni Ossinovski says.
SDE is also in opposition.
In a post on his social media account Friday, Ossinovski, a former SDE leader, stated a belief that the return of a Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition had been hammered out at party leader level some time ago, but a combination of high anxiety over the current international security situation and the prime minister and her party's strong showing in recent opinion polls has meant that what was in effect an Isamaa coup could not be enacted hitherto, while a squabble over legislation had been carried out to obscure this.
Ossinovski wrote that: "In order to hide the real collusion, a shadow play has been performed in recent weeks, as if the issue came down to a matter of child support."
Ossinovski also referred to a statement from Isamaa's Riigikogu chief whip, Priit Sibul, who reportedly likened Kaja Kallas' recent actions to the "era of silence" - the period of authoritarian rule under prime minister, then president, Konstantin Päts, during the mid-to-late 1930s.
Kallas' dismissal of Center's ministers on Friday lifts this smoke-screen, however, Ossinovski went on, and has forced Isamaa's hand – i.e. that they will have to publicly concede they want to be in office with Center and EKRE, but not with Reform and SDE.
This was evidenced also by Isamaa leader Helir Valdor Seeder's response to an invite on the part of Kallas and Reform to join in coalition negotiations – which, Ossinovski said, was one of calling for Kallas to resign as prime minister; a logical move, as staying put would force Seeder to show his hand in tabling a no-confidence motion in Kallas later on, the SDE MP added.
"In the current situation, the decision of the prime minister to dismiss the ministers of the Center Party is appropriate," Ossinovski continued.
"First, it will accelerate the formation of an active government for Estonia; in the current situation, the power vacuum is unacceptable," he went on.
"As a result, the saddest scenario for the Estonian state and people for the next nine months: We will have to fasten our seat belts and prepare for a government which will humiliate and harass our people, Ukrainian refugees and foreign partners; in the international situation," Ossinovski concluded, referring to what he saw as the reality of a return of the Center/EKRE/Isamaa lineup – previously in office April 2019-January 2021.
So far as Isamaa goes, the plan is confined to the party elite, Ossinovski said, and said that half of Isamaa's MPs had been unaware of it, meaning the argument of bad memories of the last time the party was in office with Center, and with EKRE in particular, was not a valid one.
Few Isamaa MPs have stood up to the leadership in the past, Ossinovski added – naming Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits as an exception.
Isamaa members who formed a breakaway faction, the Parempoolsed, were expelled from the party in March. Ladõnskaja-Kubits has announced her intention to quit politics after the March 5 2023 general election.
On Friday, Kaja Kallas dismissed Center's seven ministers, shortly obtaining the assent from President Alar Karis to do so.
Kallas later invited both SDE and Isamaa to coalition negotiations.
Earlier in the day, Helir-Valdor Seeder had distanced his party from EKRE and Center in an interview given to ERR, saying that they had many policy differences, for instance on Estonian-only instruction in kindergartens. Isamaa voted with Reform on this earlier in the week; Center voted with an EKRE proposal to strike the bill down, a proposal which succeeded.
Editor: Andrew Whyte