Center Party leader Jüri Ratas says he would be very surprised if a coalition of Reform, Isamaa and the Social Democrats (SDE) did not become reality, following Saturday's announcement by Isamaa that it was to enter talks aimed at forming a government consisting of the same three parties.
"I am convinced that, as Isamaa has made this decision, it would be very surprising if a government coalition were not to have been born [today] under the leadership of the Reform Party, together with SDE and Isamaa," Ratas said Saturday, adding that: "The political map has been redrawn," following Isamaa's move.
"It is also clear that in the light of the next Riigikogu elections, the only serious alternative to the Reform Party is the Center Party," Ratas, who is also Riigikogu speaker, added.
Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder announced Saturday lunchtime that his party would enter negotiations with Reform and Center, not long after an Isamaa board meeting convened to decide on whether to do so, or to take up an alternative offer from Center to join it and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) instead.
As to whether this alignment – in office April 2019-January 2021 – could take up office if Isamaa's talks with Reform were to fall through, Ratas said that it could, but reiterated that such an outcome would be a surprise to him.
"Yes, our desire is certainly to create a government that can implement the principles related to defense policy … If we have the partners to do this, then we are definitely ready for negotiations. But it would be a big surprise if the decision from Isamaa today does not culminate in the formation of a coalition under the leadership of the Reform Party," Ratas went on.
SDE got on board with Reform less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Kaja Kallas dismissed the seven Center government ministers last Friday, June 3, terminating the coalition line-up which had been in office since January 2021. However, it took Isamaa over a week to do the same, having been courted by both Reform and Center.
Kallas and Reform's deputy chair Keit Pentus-Rosimannus have expressed a desire to get going with the negotiations as soon as possible, with Reform having been in office alone, as a minority government, for over a week.
The Riigikogu must vote on the coalition entering office, should a deal be struck between the three parties, though it breaks up for the summer recess next Thursday, June 16. Extraordinary Riigikogu sittings can be called during the summer recess, however.
The development also means a vote of no-confidence in Kaja Kallas as premier which, if it had carried, could have led to extraordinary elections ahead of the next general election in March 2023, is now a highly unlikely outcome
Editor: Andrew Whyte