Isamaa chairman criticizes Kallas for not resigning, president's office

Isamaa Party Chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder on Friday criticized Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) for refusing to step down and President Alar Karis' office for publicly communicating with the Electoral Commission.

In an interview with ERR, Seeder reiterated the party will make a decision about who — Reform/SDE or Center/EKRE — to start negotiations with on Saturday after a meeting of the council.

Isamaa is not afraid to face extraordinary elections, should negotiations fall through, the chairman said. The party is currently polling between 6-7 percent, just above the 5 percent Riigikogu threshold.

He did not hold back from criticizing Kallas, even though his party could start negotiations with her in the coming days.

Seeder said the prime minister had made the process as "complicated and controversial as possible" and that she should not have abruptly kicked Center and its seven MPs from the cabinet without warning. He said Kallas did this to deliberately antagonize the Center party. Seeder also highlighted the filibustering techniques used by the party to block the progress of the draft family benefits bill.

The chairman said Kallas and Prime Minister Alar Karis have already been communicating about the issue of extraordinary elections and that this is the path Kallas prefers.

"Kadriorg has also signaled and demonstrated its readiness for extraordinary elections. There must have been some cooperation and flow of information between the prime minister and the president on these issues," he said.

Earlier this week Karis contacted the Electoral Commission to clarify the process regarding extraordinary elections. It will be up to Karis to give the go-ahead if the situation arises.

These will come about if the majority of the parliament or parties vote to hold extraordinary elections or if Kallas loses a vote of confidence.

When ERR suggested Seeder has been "a little critical" of Kallas and could the choice of negotiating partner be deduced from this, the chairman doubled down.

"I was not a little critical, but I was very critical of how the prime minister has handled this change of governing coalition now," he said, adding her actions are unconstitutional and many people have said so.

However, he denied anything should be read into this and that it does not suggest who the party will opt to negotiate with.

"So, yes, I have been very critical of this process. But this does not mean that we do not take into account the reality in Estonia, the number of mandates of parties in parliament, which policy is pursued by one party or another, the current situation in Estonia and the international situation in Europe more broadly, what are these choices and what other parties have done in recent months, what decisions they have made," he said.

Asked if he thought the president's behavior favored a particular party, such as Reform, he said: "No, I cannot evaluate that here. I do expect the president and the prime minister to communicate in the current situation — that is logical and normal. It would be much more abnormal if the prime minister and the president were not communicating now."

He said by making the letter public, the president had entered into the daily brawl of politics.

"I hope it just came from inexperience and the president did not want to take such a step," he said, adding the information could have been requested in other ways or the letter marked for private use only.

He said the president's role in this situation should be on the sidelines "to try to balance, to unite, to reconcile" the different views of the parties.

Seeder, who is currently in hospital recovering from an operation, refused to speculate on who the party would choose and whether or not he would play a role in the next government.

Despite the prime minister's hints at extraordinary elections and Riigikogu night sessions, Estonia does not have political deadlock or a constitutional crisis, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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