Prime minister: Eesti 200 clearly a voter expectation for coalition
Voters in Estonia clearly expect to see Eesti 200 in any new coalition lineup, Reform Party leader Kaja Kallas says. However, the prime minister stopped short of stating that her party, which won 37 Riigikogu seats at Sunday's election, will start coalition negotiations with Eesti 200 – which has just won its first ever Riigikogu seats.
Kallas did not rule out forming a coalition with any of the other parties, with the exception of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).
Kallas made her remarks in an interview given to ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) anchors Astrid Kannel and Priit Kuusk Monday, which follows in its entirety.
Interviewer: Have you made phone calls to all the potential coalition partners as of now? Apparently, EKRE is not among these phone call recipients...
Kallas: All the calls have been made. EKRE has really not been among these. Just as I pledged, and kept to that pledge in 2019, now we certainly cannot fit into a government which includes EKRE. As for the others, the carousel is really turning, and tomorrow we are set to discuss at [Reform Party] board level, as to who to propose to start coalition talks with.
The easiest way would probably be to form a coalition with the Center Party, as they have been so brutally trounced [at the election]. They are likely to agree on everything?
Each and every option has its pros and cons. On the one hand, the old partners who we have already been in a coalition with, we already know, and two is easier than three (Reform was in a bipartite coalition with Center from January 2021 to June 2022-ed). However, on the other hand, the voters' expectations are clear. Eesti 200, which went from zero to 14 seats is clearly a voters' expectation and one of the winners of these elections. We all have to take this into account. But the content aspect is also important, precisely what we might do together.
Are you hinting at a possible coalition with Eesti 200?
Ultimately, all these four options are hints that they are outcomes which are viable.
Coalition negotiations represent some fine-tuning, but at the same time you have already made a strong statement that ministerial positions cannot be divided equally. Do you already know how many ministerial posts should remain with the Reform Party. and what they are?
In the normal run of things, the distribution of positions is certainly left to the end [of negotiations]. But why I wanted to telegraph this early on, so that there wouldn't be that expectation [of an even division of ministerial portfolios]. If the will of the electorate is that we get 37 seats, many more than the other partners, then the will of the voters should also be expressed in taking portfolios (EKRE was the next nearest party with 17 seats, ie. less than half those Reform won, while Center and Eesti 200 have 16 and 14 seats respectively-ed.).
The President called for haste in getting a functioning coalition as soon as possible, so that the country will be governed properly (the Reform-SDE-Isamaa government remains in opposition as a caretaker administration in the meantime-ed.). What time-frame do you think would be logical to reach the next steps in? And do you already know what proposals you will make to the board tomorrow?
The time-frame is that until all the electoral complaints have been resolved, or gone through and rejected, the [official] election result will not be announced until that time, and if it is not announced, then while we can get a coalition together, we cannot inaugurate a new government, because first we have to to inaugurated the Riigikogu, then the President gives a mandate and only then can you ask for a mandate from the Riigikogu vote.
However, as far as tomorrow's meeting is concerned, yes, I have my own preferences, I also listened to the discussion by the board today, and after carrying out this round of open questions, we will definitely come up with such a decision tomorrow (ie. today, Tuesday-ed.).
Thousands of people voted for a pro-Kremlin individual in Ida-Viru County. This is a clear issue which can no longer be hidden away anywhere. How will you, as Prime Minister, solve this issue?
If I had one soundbite here right now, I would be very happy, but I don't have that soundbite. There is an issue, and in fact, when we shut down Russian propaganda TV channels, looking at these monthly surveys every we can see that this pro-Kremlin tendency is slowly diminishing, but it still exists and it is still quite substantial. I think that Ida-Viru County must be dealt with separately. We have to sit down and think about the solutions that other political parties see are. This is definitely a problem.
The state will pay a pro-Kremlin party €30,000 per year, is this normal? (referring to state support provided to any party which polls above 2 percent, now including the pro-Kremlin United Left Party-ed.).
These are the rules that we have agreed upon, and the elections showed that they received support of more than 2 percent, so the law says that political parties that received more than 2 percent also receive support from the state. So, these are the rules and Estonia is a country governed by the rule of law, so we must adhere to that (the United Left Party includes the Koos party, which was folded into the same organization ahead of the elections-ed.).
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'