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Reform MP: Coalition partners want to turn back time

Jürgen Ligi.
Jürgen Ligi. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Isamaa and the Social Democrats, who are in coalition talks with the Reform Party, want to turn the country around by promising free things and compensation, and the cost of a potential new coalition agreement runs into the hundreds of millions of euros, said Jürgen Ligi, a veteran politician from the Reform Party.

"After 20 years of pursuing the policy that the state does not intervene in everything, that some matters are also private, and that the state must make reasonable costs and do things that are directly related to its main concern, it appears now that everything has been turned around," said Jürgen Ligi (Reform), commenting on debates during the coalition talks.

"The main issue is that, somewhere along the line, the notion that the state should do something with the money that the individual cannot, has been lost. Giving basic taxpayers cash or issuing checks from the state is not an option anymore. This is a fundamental change. It's like you've been discussing something for twenty years, and then decide to achieve the opposite within six months," said Ligi.

"It is our freedom to do away with such things, where the state supports a citizen, or declares doing so, and then ultimately makes children too. This is not the model of a free society that emerges here. It's as through the people built a free society and now there are proposals from a coalition on the table that seem to go back in time and force these people in state care system disregarding for what might happen to them," said Ligi.

The cost of the new pledges is in the hundreds of millions, he added, and a more detailed estimate is even impossible, as the demands of partners are ever-changing.

"The problem is that everything is going back and forth. One moment we get a briefing that 'Thank heavens this topic is done', and the next, 'Oh no, it's back in precisely the original shape again'. Three-four days ago, we had something like an idea that the coalition was coming together and now that's gone again," said Ligi. "The worst part is this oscillation back and forth. When one begins wavering, the other says, 'wait, we want that too,' and the total sum changes once again."

Ligi said that what is emerging in the disputes is "a completely new political culture" and that the coalition has never been formed in this way before; "That is, before Jüri Ratas (Center Party), let's put it that way," added Ligi.

Ligi: Reform Party tries to minimize losses

Regording the role of the Reform Party, Ligi said that his party is attempting to form a coalition and to avert bigger losses by preventing a right-wing and national-conservative EKRE and a center-left Center Party from gaining power.

"One of the dangers is, of course, EKRE, which knows no bounds, but neither does the Centre Party, so it's like there are generous bidders waiting on the other side," said Ligi, referring to the christian-democratic and national-conservative Isamaa.

"However, Isamaa does not issue a clear statement that it does not want this coalition [previous coalition with Isamaa, Center party, SDE] back. Obviously, this is a cause for concern," said Ligi, and added "We don't have the money we are sharing and it is a massive advance in terms of fixed costs, which is now happening," Ligi said .

"And when educators are threatening with strikes and administrators in higher education are refusing to sign management agreements—where the shoe pinches most—it is the result."

"Education is among the things that are necessarily required from the state, as the majority of children can be supported by their family in other areas but not in schooling," Ligi said .

In reference to "social electricity," Ligi said that subsidies should be granted selectively to individuals who are having a particularly difficult time as a result of price increases.

"If we believed that this is an inherent social good, our society would be very different. This also implies that investments would decrease regardless of any other factors. In this way, the solution would only be postponed as people are not thinking about reducing their consumption, insulating their homes, or producing their own goods. For both the government and the private sector—because of a lack of market pressure—the price appears to be on a lower scale. Such lousy price suppression reduces future energy supply, as this causes also fewer investments," Ligi said .

"In this sense, it's once again a very difficult societal shift, and I don't know for how long it is desired, or what the next commodity will be—is it milk or water, or are we going back to public housing?" asked Ligi.

"This is not a joke at all - a government that has to come together for about six months, and that includes Christmas, election campaigning, and the summer, is trying to achieve the exact opposite of what Estonia has been aiming at for the past thirty years - developing a free society," Ligi .

"It feels at the moment, that the pressure to finish the project in six months is excessive and unsustainable. However, the alternative would be to open the door to those who have neither principles nor understanding of how society functions," Ligi went on.

The Reform Party, Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) have been negotiating for more than a month to form a new coalition after Prime Minister and Reform Party leader Kaja Kallas kicked the Center Party out of the government.

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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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