Both the two major dailies in Estonia, Postimees and Eesti Päevaleht (EPL), looked at the infighting that seems to have engulfed coalition party Eesti 200.
According to Postimees (link in Estonian), with one of the founding members having left the party Monday, two more similarly prominent members can be expected to resign also.
Eesti 200 chair Lauri Hussar, himself a former Postimees editor-in-chief, had, according to that daily, presented ultimata to Liina Normet, Kadri Paas and Karin Kaup-Lapõnin, whereby they should either quit or toe the party line – in Normet's case, she chose the former option, announcing her resignation Monday – Normet will continue to sit on Tallinn City Council, as an unaffiliated deputy.
The trio had clashed with the party's leadership, charging Hussar with a dictatorial style and the other Eesti 200 leading members more broadly of deviating from the party's founding values.
Enumerating most of the controversies to have been associated with Eesti 200 leading members since the March election, Paas told Postimees in a comment on accusations from that leadership that she has damaged Eesti 200's reputation that: "As for damaging the reputation of the political party, it was not me who invited Johanna-Maria Lehtme to run on the Riigikogu election list; I did not put in place [Eesti 200 MP] Tarmo Tamm as the chair of the Riigikogu's environment committee; I did not send out a press release from the parliamentary group about [MP] Zuzu [Izmailova] becoming Tamm's deputy, which [Eesti 200 MP] Marek Reinaas then changed his mind about a week later; I did not orchestrate any conflict of interest on behalf of [foreign minister] Margus Tsahkna, about which [investigative weekly Eesti] Ekspress penned a lengthy article; I did not propose anyone for the position of RMK supervisory board member (again referring to Tarmo Tamm-ed.), whose conflict of interest was observed from afar and whose candidacy climate minister [Kristen] Michal quickly crossed off."
Meanwhile Normet told EPL (link in Estonian) that, in her opinion, Hussar is not the real party leader and is under the control of other figures.
In her resignation explanation posted on her social media account Monday, Normet rather cryptically referred to "drinks in the car, Eesti 200 style", and shed more light on what this meant in the EPL piece – namely a claim that Hussar, Kadri Napritson-Acuna, Lauri Hussar's adviser in his role as Riigikogu speaker, plus Marek Reinaas, had utilized Hussar's company car for private interests, by traveling in that company car to an event, imbibing sparkling wine there and then ordering the same company car, presumably with a driver, to pick them up again, instead of ordering a taxi.
Conversely, the Eesti 200 board has charged Normet and Karin Kaup-Lapõnin both of copying and misusing Eesti 200 Tallinn members' personal data, while Paas is charged with influencing Normet towards addressing the accusations about the party leadership to the media, Postimees writes.
Paas and Kaup-Lapõnin have, however, told Postimees that they are in no hurry to leave Eesti 200; as noted Monday's deadline, put in place by Lauri Hussar, has passed in any case.
Lauri Hussar sent a written comment to ERR Monday confirming Normet's resignation from the party, stating that the board had addressed her criticisms of the party last week.
Hussar wrote: "The party board met on August 16, 2023, where the decision was made that it is not viable to condone any public attack on the party's internal politics and views, nor of public confrontation within the party."
Hussar added Normet would be given time to consider her next move, given her status within the party as a founder member. He also thanked her for her contribution to the party.
Eesti 200 was founded in 2018, contested its first election in March 2019 and won its first seats at the October 2021 local elections. The party then won 14 seats at the March Riigikogu elections this year, propelling themselves into office with Reform and the Social Democrats as a result. The party has a broadly socially liberal platform and a stated forward-looking technocratic approach.
Editor: Mait Ots, Andrew Whyte
Source: Postimees, EPL