SDE chairman: We took ministries knowing they would be tough

Lauri Läänemets.
Lauri Läänemets. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

SDE chairman Lauri Läänemets said the party has gone into the new coalition with its eyes wide open and understands its ministers will be dealing with some of the trickiest issues in the coming months.

Speaking about the new government on Friday, opposition EKRE Chairman Martin Helme said SDE has been set up to fail by its partners and that the party will struggle with the portfolios it has been allocated over the coming eight months.

Läänemets disputed these claims in an interview with ERR on Friday, saying accepting difficult ministries, such as economic affairs and infrastructure, is the only way the party can make a difference and help the Estonian people.

"If Martin Helme praised these choices, there would be cause for concern. The Social Democrats have taken these ministerial positions with full knowledge and a wish to protect people's livelihoods in this severe inflation and energy crisis. This is the reason why we stood for increasing incomes for lower and middle-income earners and why we wanted the portfolio of minister of economy," Läänemets, candidate for interior minister, said.

He said the party wanted the economy and infrastructure portfolio, which will deal with the energy crisis, as SDE have been raising the issue of capping energy payments in the Riigikogu for a year.

Asked what percentage of the party's goals had been achieved with the coalition agreement, the chairman said it is not possible to measure this way.

"Our party's program was significantly longer than this coalition agreement," the MP said but added achieving welfare and nursing care reform is an important achievement.  

As future minister of the interior, Läänemets said some policies at the ministry must be analyzed, such as rules around changing names and cohabitation.

While denying these policies were too radical, he said: "We have heard about quite a lot of these cases through the media, where the ministry starts to interfere very strongly in what surname someone can have and how people should decide their cohabitation.

"It is not the state's business, every person knows what is important to them, who they want to be, what they want to be, and the state should support a person, not be an obstacle."

Asked how Madis Kallas, currently mayor of Saare County and future environment minister, will tackle controversial issues, Läänemets said he is "one of the best people" for the job.

"If we put an expert there from one side or the other, there would obviously be a problem. If we put a person in there who looks for balance and listens to all parties, I think we will get exactly what we want," he said.

Läänemets said there will be no tax reform carried out by the coalition, even though SDE is in favor of it.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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