Center chair: Party can work in opposition too
Center Party leader Jüri Ratas says that his party intends to stick to its guns in potential coalition negotiations, and does not rule out being in opposition.
"We put our views on the table. It is important for the Center Party that if a coalition is born, we will support the people of Estonia in the current energy crisis," adding that support for Ukraine would be a given here.
"So we will not go to any coalition – this is point one. And, point two: we can also function in the opposition," Ratas continued Wednesday.
"And if you think we apprehensive extraordinary elections, we are not afraid of those either," he added, referring to a constitutional provision to hold off-schedule elections in the event of a prime minister not stepping down.
Ratas made his remarks after a three-way meeting between his party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia and Isamaa. The latter has also met with Refrom and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) with a view to sounding out parties for potential coalition tallks, and will make its decision by Saturday at the latest as to which alignment it will plump for.
Ratas added that current situation gave the lie to allegations that the political dispute over a family benefits bill was a smokescreen obscuring the fact that a new coalition had already been agreed.
"You see, these were incorrect estimates. It was essential that we wanted, and want, to continue to settle the child and family benefits situation. But what a coalition is going to do is very much the decision for Isamaa, as things stand."
While Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) dismissed all seven Center Party ministers from office on Friday, she and her party remain in office as a minority government.
Extraordinary elections have never been held in Estonia since the restoration of independence over 30 years ago; in the meantime a vote of no-confidence in Kaja Kallas as premier would need to pass, in order for this to take place.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte