Helme on Kallas no-confidence motion: EKRE's plans are aimed elsewhere

EKRE chair Martin Helme and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform).
EKRE chair Martin Helme and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Chair of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) Martin Helme told ERR, that his party wants Kaja Kallas (Reform) to resign from the post of prime minister. However, EKRE is still considering whether or not to join the motion of no confidence against Kallas, initiated by Isamaa.

"First of all, of course, it must be stressed that we think Kaja Kallas is unfit to be prime minister. We thought so during her first government, second government and third government. We thought so in the spring and we think so now," Helme said.

"But, in my opinion, what needs to be considered above all, is the question of what we want to achieve. We have, in all likelihood, more than ten confidence bills coming up, and confidence bills are also basically a vote of confidence in the government and the head of government. The difference between a vote of no confidence in the prime minister and bill tied to a confidence vote is twofold. The first is, that bills tied to a confidence vote can also overthrow a government by a simple majority. However, a vote of no confidence in the prime minister requires 51 votes in favor. So in the case of bills tied to a confidence vote, I would say the battlefield is more favorable for the opposition," Helme added.

The EKRE leader added, that it is very easy for coalition MPs to support the prime minister in a no-confidence motion. However, for specific bills there may be those in the coalition, who have their doubts.

"For these few dozen bills that the government now wants to pass, if it wants to pass a budget, it will ultimately have to tie at least ten or so to a vote of confidence. Among these bills, there are a number over which, there are very serious, fundamental political disagreements, both within the coalition parties and between the coalition parties, which is why they have not rushed ahead with confidence here," he said.

"So my question is, if we are now rushing to censure the prime minister, are we not helping the prime minister and the coalition by offering them the opportunity to mobilize behind Kaja Kallas without having to make these tough choices about bills and forcing their people to stand in line on bills?" Helme said.

Helme also sees Isamaa's initiative as an incentive for Reform Party members to rally behind their leader, indirectly increasing Isamaa's support as a result.

"The second aspect is, that of course we all understand Kaja Kallas is almost an ideal punching bag for the opposition and of course it is in the interests of Isamaa and to the benefit of Isamaa if Kaja Kallas continues as prime minister," Helme said.

"At the end of the week, the Reform Party will have a general meeting. Basically, by starting to talk now that the opposition is going to censure Kaja Kallas, we actually run the risk of mobilizing the Reform Party members, Kaja Kallas and her supporters to rally within the Reform Party, perhaps strengthening her position, which will benefit the opposition in the short term. After all, Isamaa's share of [support] is largely a result of the fact that we have such a weak and bad leader as prime minister," Helme said.

"So I think we need to think carefully here about what the goal is. If the aim is simply to do some political arms-twisting, then of course it can [be done . However, if the goal is really to try to bring down this government, then perhaps this vote of no confidence between these dozen bills connected to a vote of confidence [in the government], will no longer do us any good, and may in fact do us some harm. And these are all things that have to be considered," Helme added.

"After all, every political party wants to be seen and heard. But what is clear, is that during the course of this state budget process, we have been at the center of the political struggle here as the drivers of the obstruction and the ones clearly communicating that we seek extraordinary elections. And well, it is probably no wonder that other parties have their own initiatives," Helme said.

However, Helme said, that even if his party does decide not to join the motion of no confidence in the prime minister, they would certainly be vote for the resignation of Kaja Kallas should that eventuality arise.

"One question, [determining] whether we will sign it or not, is what the final wording will be. However, if it comes down to a vote, there is no question about how we will vote - we will certainly vote in favor of removing Kaja Kallas as prime minister. But yes, our plans are aimed elsewhere, that's true," the EKRE chair said.

According to Helme, EKRE's leadership will begin discussing the motion of no confidence on Tuesday evening. The issue will also be considered on Wednesday during a meeting of the party's parliamentary group.

On Tuesday, Isamaa said that it had begun negotiations with the parties represented in the Riigikogu to initiate a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Center Party chief whip Tanel Kiik also said that his party  wanted Kallas to resign.

The EKRE chair also pointed out that votes of no confidence requires the parties to agree on the content of the related text and who will propose it, emphasizing that his party is the largest among the opposition.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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