Tax hikes, marriage equality make Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition agreement
The nascent Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition is set to make its coalition agreement public on Saturday afternoon, with tax hikes and granting the same legal status to same-sex marriages as that enjoyed by opposite-sex unions likely to be included.
The reorganization of ministerial posts will also be unveiled.
The eventual arrival of some warm spring weather did not quite seem to percolate through to some of the negotiating politicians, however – ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported that they remained tight-lipped and would not comment on camera on the agreement's contents.
Social Democratic Party (SDE) leader Lauri Läänemets did give some hints, however, saying: "It is the case that certain changes to the tax system are also a part of the agreement."
Meanwhile, acting Finance Minister Annely Akkermann (Reform) had told ETV politics head-to-head show "Esimene stuudio" Thursday evening that hiking excise duties on would be the "most painless" way of plugging the gaps arising from Estonia having the lowest tax burden in the EU (32 percent, once the coalition's planned changes have been executed).
AK reported that Läänemets had written to party-mates stating that while the minimum wage will be hiked also, this would not happen in the way that his party had wanted. SDE had aimed to tie the minimum wage in Estonia, to the median wage (reported last year at around €1,700 per month).
Clarity has been brought to the distribution of ministerial posts, in numbers and changes to portfolios, if not in politicians' names.
Läänemets said: "There will be 13 ministers in total, while certain ministries will be reorganized. There is set to be a real regional development ministry, a climate ministry and a strong IT and economic ministry."
The outgoing coalition comprised 15 ministers, including the prime minister.
Regional affairs had been mostly dealt with by the minister of public administration, with some aspects under the minister of rural affairs' remit.
The coalition agreement is reportedly undergoing some fine-tuning and will be approved by the three parties' boards at a meeting starting at noon today, Saturday. This means the agreement itself will be made public via a press conference Saturday afternoon.
ERR has obtained information to the effect that Reform will obtain seven ministerial posts, Eesti 200 three, and SDE three also.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) had stated early on in the coalition negotiations that the former practice of distributing ministerial posts equally between the parties, regardless of their Riigikogu representation, would be replaced by a proportional distribution in relation to seats won.
While Eesti 200 (14 seats) and SDE (nine seats) will be getting the same number of ministers, three apiece, Eesti 200 as the larger party by representation will get a key additional post – speaker of the Riigikogu, ERR reports.
According to ERR, the division of ministerial portfolios by party will be as follows:
- Minister of Finance,
- Minister of Culture,
- Minister of Social Affairs,
- Minister of Defense,
- Minister of Justice,
- Minister of Climate (a new post, in effect replacing the former environment minister position).
- Minister of the Interior,
- Minister of Health,
- Minister of Regional Affairs (a new post likely amalgamating the former rural affairs and public administration roles).
- Minister of Foreign Affairs,
- Minister of Education and Research,
- Minister of IT and Economic Affairs (effectively a merging of the former economic affairs and communications, and IT and foreign trade portfolios).
The above is of course subject to confirmation at Saturday afternoon's press conference.
Names were not mentioned, though Friday's meeting was attended by Eesti 200 leader Lauri Hussar, deputy chair Kristina Kallas and former defense Minister Margus Tsahkna, as well as Marek Reinaas.
From SDE, outgoing Culture Minister Piret Hartman, Riina Sikkut, Economic Affairs Minister in the last administration, and Jevgeni Ossinovski, a former health minister. were present, in addition to Läänemets.
Reform politicians in attendance included its chief whip at the XIV Riigikogu, Mart Võrklaev, outgoing Rural Affairs Minister Urmas Kruuse as well as the prime minister, Kaja Kallas.
The XV Riigikogu convenes for the first time on Monday, meaning the vote on the proposed coalition can go ahead then, or certainly next week.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'