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Political commentators predict how ministerial portfolios will be doled out

Some of the politicians Pollitikaguru tipped for ministerial posts in the incoming coalition.
Some of the politicians Pollitikaguru tipped for ministerial posts in the incoming coalition. Source: ERR

The number of ministerial posts will be cut from 15 to 13, while two new portfolios will be created, according to two leading contributors to Poliitikaguru, an independent association of observers of politics.

Journalist Erik Moora of investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress told ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" that: "The government will materialize, the question is whether their families will also get their colored eggs (given that the ministers-to-be will be unveiled on Easter weekend-ed.).

"The first coalition council meeting is to take place Saturday at 1 p.m.. This must approve the negotiations, after which the coalition must come together," Moora went on.

Tõnis Leht, a political scientist and former civil servant, and also a member of Poliitikaguru, noted that the deadline of April 10 which the coalition-to-be set itself has concentrated minds. "Right now, everyone has the deadline in front of them, and everyone has the will to cooperate and the desire to lead the Estonian people to happiness," Leht said, likely somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

"They will come to an agreement," he added.

As to the ministerial lineup – since the prime minister is already known, ie. Kaja Kallas – this will see come changes not only in names, but also composition, Leht forecast.

"Discussions we have had with the coalition makers will permit us to say that, instead of the current 15 ministerial positions, there will be fewer ministerial positions – 13 in fact."

The 15 ministers were spread five apiece among Reform, the Social Democrats (SDE) and Isamaa, in the outgoing coalition, in office for barely nine months. Isamaa is not in the incoming coalition, while Eesti 200 is making its governmental (and legislative) debut on the week starting April 10.

The Reform-Center coalition, as a bipartite lineup, in office to June last year, had had seven ministers per party, excluding the prime minister.

Kaja Kallas had indicated shortly after the March 5 election that, whereas ministerial posts had been divided equally between the three parties regardless of the number of seats won at the Riigikogu, this time, the distribution would be more proportional.

Reform has 37 seats, compared with 14 for Eesti 200 and nine for SDE, which would equate to eight ministers to Reform, three to Eesti 200 and two to SDE – if this principle is carried through to its natural conclusion of course.

Reform might be a little bit more generous than that to their smaller coalition partners, however, Moora noted, with for instance seven (Reform) plus three each to Eesti 200 and SDE, or six to Reform, four to Eesti 200 and three to SDE, or possibly five only to Reform.

Erik Moora Source: ERR

In any case, Moora and Leht made their predictions as follows:

"SDE leader Lauri Läänemets will get the portfolio of regional minister. This ministry will be based around the current Ministry of Rural Affairs, while the Ministry of Public Administration will be abolished altogether," Leht said.

Up until now, the public administration minister post, held by Riina Solman (Isamaa) in the last coalition, has functioned as the minister for the regions. If Leht's prediction were to come true, this would be the second of two ministerial posts to have been held by Solman and which have been disbanded, at least for the time being; she was minister for population affairs in the Center-EKRE-Isamaa administration (April 2019-January 2021).

Another new portfolio would be minister for climate, which Moora said would go to Kristen Michal (Reform).

"He has been able to deal with economic issues while sitting on the Riigikogu economic committee, plus he won a substantial amount of votes," Moora said.

Michal was last a minister 2015-2016, when he held the economic affairs and communications portfolio, and has been leading Reform's Tallinn City Council group (where the party is in opposition).

Much attention is likely to be paid to the Minister of Defense post, which Hanno Pevkur (Reform) will likely retain, Leht said.

"A lot of money is entering that field, while someone has to complete the Nursipalu training area process," he added.

Leht and Moora forecast that Reform's Signe Riisalo will retain her post as Minister of Social Protection.

Riina Sikkut (SDE) will remain a minister, but will gain the health portfolio and lose the economic affairs role. Sikkut was health minister 2018-2019, while the current incumbent is Peep Peterson, also with SDE.

Two newcomers mentioned were Liisa Pakosta (Eesti 200), whom Moora and Leht tipped for Minister of Justice, and Heidy Purga (Reform), who they argued would be a good candidate for Minister of Culture, noting her substantial vote haul at the election.

Moora referenced Margus Tshahkna (Eesti 200) for foreign minister, and certainly Eesti 200. "It seems likely that the second largest party in the government will get the position of foreign minister," he said.

Tõnis Leht Source: Laura Raudnagel/ERR

Tsahkna, then with Isamaa, was Minister of Defense 2016-2017.

SDE will retain the interior minister post, which will go to Jevgeni Ossinovski, given current incumbent Läänemets lateral move (see above). Ossinovski is a past health minister and current Tallinn City Council chair (a post he would have to relinquish on becoming a government minister).

"As an experienced politician, he can fill any ministerial position," Leht added.

Of the remainder, Reform will retain the Minister of Finance post, but not the person – Annely Akkermann would make way for Reform's current Riigikogu chief whip Mart Võrklaev, by Moora's reckoning.

Two more ministry posts vacated by Isamaa are education and foreign trade and IT; the former would go to Eesti 200 co-founder and University of Tartu academic Kristina Kallas, while the latter would go to the party's leader, former newspaperman Lauri Hussar.

While the above are of course predictions, readers will not have to wait long to see how accurate they have been – the ministerial portfolio lineup is likely to be announced Saturday or Sunday latest, given the intention is to get the new coalition voted on as early as Monday, day one of the XV Riigikogu.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel.

Source: 'Ringvaade', interviewer Grete Lõbu.

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