EKRE accepts Center offer for coalition talks, seeks prime minister seat
The opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) would seek the prime ministerial spot in a coalition with the Center Party, EKRE leader Martin Helme said Tuesday evening.
The party would accept Center's offer, via its leader Jüri Ratas, to recreate the Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition, Helme added, saying that the decision was one from the party's board.
He said: "The board was of the opinion that. if we go into government negotiations, given the way the previous government wound up, it is justifiable that the prime minister post would be in the hands of EKRE. But, since would already be part of a larger set, this whole dividing up of ministerial posts is a complicated solitaire, to the extent that we are simply pointing out what we think should be the case."
Helme then noted that the prime ministerial candidate would be he himself, adding that he would be much faster decision-maker than Ratas had been as prime minister.
"I would think that the main thing differentiating me from Jüri Ratas is that I am a much faster decision-maker. He thinks things through very calmly, and only then starts moving. I reach decisions much faster and more boldly."
Helme added that the party's board was of the opinion that, while there are disadvantages to joining a government as per Center's offer, if it is possible to work for Estonia and bring change, then that should be given a try.
Helme added that former party leader Mart Helme, interior minister in the last administration, and Rene Kokk, a former environment minister, would constitute EKRE's negotiations team in talks with Center and Isamaa, as they had done the last time the three parties negotiated, in the wake of the March 2019 general election.
The board has already compiled topics it would wish to address if it ended up in office again, principally concerning child benefits and responses to soaring inflation, national defense, in which he said there were serious holes, and immigration, which Helme said is out of control in Estonia and a threat to the nation.
Estonian-language education from kindergarten level, a policy which Reform tried to put in place via a bill which was voted down following an EKRE proposal to do so, would also be on the agenda, he said.
The Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition exited office in January 2021 following revelations that an Internal Security Service investigation into corruption surrounding a central Tallinn real estate project implicated the Center Party – though Center itself remained in office, with Reform.
Jüri Ratas was prime minister from November 2016, initially in coalition with SDE and Isamaa, until January 2021, after which he became Riigikogu speaker.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte