Eesti 200 new leader: Coalition with EKRE virtually impossible
A coalition between the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Eesti 200 following next spring's general election is out of the question, the latter's new leader, Lauri Hussar says, even were EKRE to make an offer.
Appearing on ETV politics head-to-head show "Esimene stuudio", Hussar, who was elected leader last Saturday, replacing party co-founder Kristina Kallas, said: "Eesti 200 and EKRE do not share a common language with regard to several important values."
"I believe that it would be very difficult for Eesti 200 to form a government with Martin Helme. In short, we consider it impossible," Hussar said.
Eesti 200, founded in 2018, has no Riigikogu seats, but regularly polls higher than some of those parties which are represented at parliament at present, and has the advantage not only of being in opposition, but also of never having been in office, meaning it cannot be tarred with the brush of past mistakes.
In fact, part of the party's raison d'etre is to block EKRE from entering office nationally, Hussar said.
"Eesti 200 has an important role in the political landscape in keeping EKRE coming to power and Martin Helme becoming prime minister, because without Eesti 200 that would not viable in today's political landscape in Estonia. Eesti 200's results are definitely important here, and we are working towards that," he went on.
The Reform Party, which Eesti 200 has considerably more in common with and will likely be competing with it for votes at the general election, made a similar statement Saturday via its leader, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, which, Hussar said, represents a strategic confrontation ahead of polling day, while Reform is also over-simplifying the situation.
He said: "Regarding the opposition that the Reform Party is building up agasint EKRE, and where the Reform Party is very clearly talking about the fact that the elections will be a fight between two major parties... They want to build a very big difference between the two parties, whereby one of them stands at demonstrations waving red flags and demands the resignation of the defense forces leader during a conflict situation /.../ and on the other hand the Reform Party, which instead scares people with talk of war, where this is a situation where only they can ensure stability.
"These solutions are both too simple," Hussar added.
Populism and the twisting of viewpoints are behind EKRE's current popularity, which has seen it move ahead of the Center Party and virtually neck-and-neck with Reform.
Reform has also made mistakes in terms of government borrowing and child benefits, extended in respect of offspring up to the age of 24, he added, noting that the prime minister's party was not the only culprit.
"There are dozens of such decisions, if we are speaking about the last couple of years and the last couple of governments," he said.
As to rumors that former president Kersti Kaljulaid would run for the party, Hussar said that while he had talked to her about the topic, nothing concrete ensued.
While Kaljulaid was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Eesti 200 while she was president – during which time she often clashed with the Center/EKRE/Isamaa administration in office April 2019 to January 2021 – the party was not her personal pet project, Hussar added, though noted that the common worldview she and the party share mean that had she been in office for a second term: "There would have been some kind of special relationship with Eesti 200."
Kaljulaid has personally ruled herself out of running for Eesti 200 or anyone else.
The general election is on March 5 2023.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming
Source: Esimene Stuudio, Andres Kuusk