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Isamaa leader: Quality of Estonia's state leadership 'fractured'

Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Estonia's leadership is fractured at present and also fails to meet societal expectations, opposition Isamaa chair Urmas Reinsalu says.

Appearing on ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio" Wednesday, Reinsalu also called for Kaja Kallas (Reform) to step down as prime minister.

"In my opinion, there is no alternative, she has to actually resign," Reinsalu, a former foreign minister, said.

"I understand from a human perspective how difficult a step this is, in a psychological sense. Any mature leader who is also capable of making decisions must think about the organization. But what is the prime minister? They are the leader of the Estonian state, and as leader, they must think about ensuring a certain leadership quality in the state, in terms of the internal and external capabilities of the state. Unfortunately, that is fractured; it is broken," Reinsalu went on.

He added that a change of leader was needed, rather than a wholesale change of administration.

"The primary task during an economic recession – having a decisive policy, is to restore the quality of leadership in the country. This of course means that the present-day coalition can remain in place, but a new prime minister must be found to lead it. This has been my message to the other party leaders."

In any case this personal leadership crisis facing Kaja Kallas has transformed into a broader government leadership crisis, Reinsalu said.

"I think the one reinforces the other, and this is a grave issue. I am, of course, an opposition politician, but that said my minimum expectation is that the state gets a certain quality of leadership. But I can see that there is a lack courage in decision-making here. Thinking back to the past, too, when we talk about the situation of the state facing difficult financial situation, a mature leader, a persuasive leader, is also able to state that then we will not then be able to realize excessive election promises," Reinsalu said, referring to a Reform Party pledge to eliminate the "tax hump," also known as "bracket creep," a policy which in his opinion should be ditched or postponed.

A lack of balance within the coalition is a second problem besetting the current government and leadership, Reinsalu added – referring to what he sees as the dominance of the Reform Party over the Social Democrats and Eesti 200.

The state budget for 2024 along with the four-year state budget strategy will hinder rather than help the Estonian economy, Reinsalu added.

The state should not amplify the economic crisis with tax hikes, he noted, adding that the burden of these will fall on the average working Estonian family, already battling with inflationary pressures.

"In the current situation, where we have been seeing so many negative trends: The uncertainty of energy inputs, all the new regulations that are imposed on us in the context of the green revolution , the entire bureaucratic environment - we must be able to not on the state's part further amplify the crisis."

Isamaa will be presenting its own alternative budget package during the course of the Riigikogu's state budget process-

The state budget is currently with the Riigikogu finance committee ahead of debating and voting through the course of the autumn and early winter.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Esimene stuudio,' interviewer Andres Kuusk.

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