Newspaper editorials: Kaja Kallas is undermining Estonian democracy

Estonian papers as of August 29, 2023.
Estonian papers as of August 29, 2023. Source: ERR

In their editorials published on their websites Tuesday morning, all of Estonia's major dailies strongly condemn a decision by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas to not appear before a Riigikogu joint select committee session scheduled for today, to report on her husband's business activities relating to Russia.

The papers consider that the move serves to undermine Estonian parliamentary democracy, while some highlight the Reform Party as a whole as at the root of the problem.

Postimees: Moving from a crisis of confidence to a parliamentary crisis

"The Prime Minister has told the public that her busy schedule does not permit her to attend the joint committee meeting," the Postimees editorial reads

"Unfortunately, this means the transition of the east-bound transport crisis into a new phase, one which the prime minister and the coalition as a whole have no way back out of," the piece continues.

"Let us work on the assumption that the prime minister cannot find time for the Riigikogu any more, and doesn't even go to Question Time (Estonian: Infotund), as offensive questions can be heard there too. So, what will happen next and what could the sanctions be?" Postimees goes on.

"Just as inconceivable would be a situation where the president does not call Riigikogu elections because a) he has a busy work schedule, b) he simply doesn't want to, and/or c) he doesn't like the fact that politicians that are not amenable to him get elected to parliament."

Postimees concedes that the law does not allow for the head of government forcibly to be brought before the parliament to provide explanations, however, stating that: "In a democratic country, the prime minister is not conveyed to the parliament by the police, but appears there of their own free will," adding that changing the law to make this the case would be "simply unimaginable."

Õhtuleht: A political winter of discontent coming

Evening paper Õhtuleht meanwhile writes that: "The Reform Party's internal political blind arrogance has claimed a new victim in the form of Kallas' political image, as well as our internal political balance."

Õhtuleht adds: "If we really want to be the bearer of Western-style values, there is no need to use techniques of managed democracy, whereby laws are pushed through by force, and difficult choices are not discussed ahead of elections. However, discussion will now be reduced to the level of insults and rantings. A harsh political winter is coming."

EPL: Has Prime Minister Kaja Kallas detached herself from the Estonian legal system?

Meanwhile Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) writes that: "In the current scandal, Kallas behaves like those politicians who, in order to keep them out of the government, many voters gave their votes to the Reform Party instead the last elections," an oblique reference to the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and its leadership.

The paper scratches its figurative head over why the head of government in a democracy cannot appear before committees or parliament to give answers on important matters, answers which can help dispel the speculation which is otherwise rife.

"All very well if Kallas likes her current post. It's great when foreign media analysis suggests that his reputation as a setter of ethical standards in limiting Russia has not suffered much. However, in order to continue in the prime minister's office while retaining face, one has to go through a sort of purgatory, one part of which lasts around an hour – a couple of answers to questions from Riigikogu committees.

"If the prime minister and the head of Stark Logistics have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, why reject the opportunity to convey their understanding of what happened via a publicly broadcast session?" EPL inquires

The prime minister has declined to appear before the Riigikogu's State Budget Control Select Committee and Anti-Corruption Select Committee, holding a sitting Tuesday on an extraordinary basis, since the Riigikogu has not come back from summer recess yet.

The committees planned to examine the situation regarding the prime minister's husband's business interests, in relation to providing logistics to a company exporting items to Russia.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: EPL, Postimees, Õhtuleht

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