Former education minister Mailis Reps says the Reform/Center coalition which broke up in early June would have remained intact had she been in the cabinet, daily Postimees reports, adding that it was her party, Center, which had been dragging its heels.
Reps, who stepped down in November 2020 after media reports emerged claiming she had misused ministry resources for non-official matters, told Postimees-owned TV channel Kanal 2 (link in Estonian) that: "There are always two sides to any relationship, but from the beginning [there was] an apparent deep unwillingness to preserve this coalition," referring to the Reform/Center alliance which was in office from January 2021 until June this year.
In response to a follow-up question as to which party displayed this reluctance, Reps replied: "The Center Party [exhibited] a very deep reluctance to work on behalf of the coalition."
Reps added that had she not had to resign as education minister while the Center/Isamaa/EKRE coalition, which preceded the Refom/Center administration, this coalition would also have survived.
Reps has been charged with misappropriation by an official and fraud, after allegedly using a ministry vehicle and driver for the school run, relieving the ministry of its coffee machine and putting entertainment bills on the ministry's tab. A first-tier county court ruling is expected on the case early next year.
She had been education minister for around seven years, over three terms, between 2002 and 2020, and is expected to run in the March 2023 general election for Center.
The Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition was dissolved in mid-January 2021 after then-Prime Minister Jüri Ratas resigned over corruption allegations linked to Center in relation to a central Tallinn real estate development.
Reps was Center's lead negotiation in talks with Reform which led to the Reform/Center government.
Reform Party leader and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas later dismissed the seven Center Party members from the coalition, in early June, following weeks of stalemate over a bill aimed at raising family benefits.
The current Reform/Isamaa/SDE administration entered office in mid-July.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots