Daily predicts ministerial posts in Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition
While the distribution of ministerial portfolios is usually the last task carried out in the course of coalition negotiations, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reports (link in Estonian) that speculating on how these might fall, between Reform, Eesti 200 and the Social Democrats (SDE) is still viable.
Given the prime minister's clear statement that ministerial seats would be divided up in proportion to party representation, rather than equally, Reform would have eight or nine ministerial posts, EPL says, with Eesti 200 having slightly more than SDE from the remainder (14-15 ministerial posts is the norm-ed.).
Since Reform is currently in office already, some of its ministers may stay put in the new, provisional coalition, EPL goes on, specifically referencing Annely Akkermann, who replaced Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as finance minister when the latter took up her new post as Estonia's representative at the European Court of Auditors.
Naturally one can only speculate, EPL notes, and it is down to the parties how they divide up portfolios, though the daily points out another important strategic dimension which parties will not let out of their sight, namely who alternate members would be if an elected MP were appointed minister (government ministers do not sit at the Riigikogu), while many of Reform's alternate members – Mait Klaassen (for Kaja Kallas), Enne Pillak (for Liina Kersna), Hanah Lahe (for Kristen Michal or Signe Riisalo), Eero Merilind (for MEP Urmas Paet) and Katrin Kuusemäe (for Hanno Pevkur) are either young, or would be entering the Riigikogu for the first time, or both.
One thing that is certain, EPL says – the return of Kaja Kallas as prime minister, (given the maximal and uncritically rosy way in which she has been portrayed in the international media even before the current security crisis-ed.), while Hanno Pevkur could retain the defense minister post, or perhaps move laterally to the equally key foreign minister position, EPL says.
Despite being voted out of office last summer over irregularities in Covid vaccination procurements during the pandemic, Liina Kersna may return as education minister – she proved a popular candidate in southeastern Estonia and is likely to champion the transition to Estonian-only education, and other education policies close to Reform's heart – while Signe Riisalo is named by EPL as a possible ministerial returnee as well; Kristen Michal as a potential cabinet returnee, after a six-and-a-half-year absence.
Urmas Kruuse (to be replaced by Toomas Järveoja) may return as rural affairs minister – or take another post – while former justice minister Maris Lauri may return to the cabinet after a year's absence, as may former defense minister Kalle Laanet (to be replaced by Urve Tiidus), EPL says.
As for Eesti 200, EPL says party leader Lauri Hussar is a dead cert, and would be replaced in parliament by Finn-Swede (but Estonian citizen) businessman Joakim Helenius, party founder Kristina Kallas (replaced by Tanel Tein) and former defense minister Margus Tsahkna to be replaced by writer Juku-Kalle Raid) and security expert Igor Taro (replacement: Former Green Party leader Zuzu Izmailova) are possibles, EPL says.
From the SDE cohort, EPL says incumbent interior minister and party leader Lauri Läänemets would certainly like to continue in government, while other options include Riina Sikkut remaining in government and Jevgeni Ossinovski returning, after several years away, but even former MEP Ivari Padar could be appointed a minister despite not winning a Riigikogu seat this time; should newcomer and former Võru mayor end up being a minister – which would be a boon for southeastern Estonia – Padar would likely be his alternate at the Riigikogu anyway.
Meanwhile, culture minister Piret Hartman and health minister Peep Peterson did not win a parliamentary seat – which does not preclude them from becoming ministers, EPL points out.
The original EPL piece (in Estonian), which also looks at policy topics likely on the table at the Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition talks, is here.
Government ministers do not have to be appointed from the Riigikogu at all; in recent years civil servants, diplomats and the heads of state agencies have all become ministers.
This was the case with both Hartman and Peterson – the latter a former trade union chief.
However, Reform in particular has a lengthy bench of experience politicians and potential ministers, unlike some other parties in some previous administrations, and this, plus the fact the party is taking a greater number of ministerial posts, means that the appointment of ametniks may be minimal this time around.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte