Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder still believes that Kaja Kallas (Reform) should resign as prime minister, following an announcement from his party Saturday that it would enter coalition negotiations with Reform and the Social Democrats (SDE).
Speaking after Saturday's meeting, when the announcement was made, Seeder said: "My belief is that the constitution must be complied with. If a coalition falls, the government must resign. We will see now what the next steps are."
Seeder added that Isamaa does not want to go to government in this way, i.e. without any resignation.
The decision also reflected the choices available to the party, he said.
"Given the policies pursued by the various parties and the impasse at the Riigikogu, we did not have any good choices.
"This also means that a third option, of just remaining in opposition, where we cannot shape policy, is not something we can afford," he went on.
At the same time, Seeder denied that Isamaa has as one of its conditions in entering talks with Reform and SDE that the next prime minister come from among Isamaa's ranks, and said that this was not discussed at Saturday's meeting.
As to the decision itself, announced fairly shortly after the meeting was convened and earlier on Saturday than anticipated, Seeder said that: "We found that it was easier and more viable to find common ground with the Reform Party and SDE than with EKRE and the Center Party in implementing various issues."
Emotions regarding the last tripartite coalition Isamaa was in with Center and EKRE and the manner in which it left office may also have played a role, Seeder said, noting that the collapse of that administration, in January 2021, was not the fault of Isamaa and that there had been no major tensions between the three parties.
At the same time, individual meetings on their own over the past week had not swayed Seeder one way or another, he said, but rather convictions had developed over a long period of time.
As to the time-frame over which the coalition might take shape, Seeder said that in practical terms, having an administration installed before Jaanipäev (June 24 and a national holiday in Estonia) was not realistic, though at the same time, it would not be realistic to wait until the Riigikogu reconvenes in September, either.
Isamaa has 12 seats at the 101-seat Riigikogu, which along with Reform's 34 and SDE's nine (or 10 if including independent MP Raimond Kaljulaid), gives a majority of 55-56, assuming all MPs vote in favor of the coalition deal, if and when it is struck.
Seeder had said Friday that Kaja Kallas should have stepped down as prime minister, once she had dismissed the Center Party from office, and also criticized President Alar Karis' involvement in the process, by communicating with the state electoral committee.
Kallas invited Isamaa to talks soon after the dismissal of the Center ministers last Friday, June 3, while Center, too, wooed Isamaa, who took over a week to announce their decision.
The alternative would have been a vote of no-confidence in Kallas as premier, likely followed by extraordinary elections – a first for Estonia, though provided for in the constitution.
The Riigikogu breaks up for summer next Thursday, June 16, though extraordinary sessions may be called during the summer recess – this happened towards the end of last summer, in order to hold presidential elections.
The next scheduled general election is March 5 2023.
Editor: Andrew Whyte