Reinsalu: Coalition likely secure, issue is with the prime minister

Urmas Reinsalu on a previous edition of 'Esimene stuudio'..
Urmas Reinsalu on a previous edition of 'Esimene stuudio'.. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

There is no question of Isamaa entering office with the Reform Party, though in any case the current coalition seems secure, Urmas Reinsalu, Isamaa's leader, says.

The main issue is that of the prime minister, Kaja Kallas, who should step down or be replaced, he adds.

Appearing on ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio" Tuesday, Reinsalu, who became Isamaa leader in mid-summer and has presided over a rise in its rating since then, said: "It is in Estonia's interests to have a government capable of functioning, with the starting point for this being Kaja Kallas resigning."

Even with that eventuality, however, Reinsalu said he didn't see any scope for his party to enter coalition with Reform under any leader, even if such an opportunity arose.

"My answer [to that] has been negative. I have fundamental problems with the Reform Party's 'political handwriting'," he said.

Isamaa initiated a no-confidence motion against the prime minister on Tuesday – the prime minister is in Washington this week – as a logical step, Reinsalyu said, after allowing the coalition to regroup after what is known in the Estonian media as the "Eastern transport scandal."

"This time has been taken, not wasted," he said, referring to the lapse between the story, that the prime minister's spouse had a major stake in a logistics firm doing business in and with Russia, breaking in late August, and the present.

"The important thing is that we fix what the [coalition] political parties' responsibilities are in this matter, so that they don't hide behind each other /.../ So that the Reform Party expresses [their own position], Eesti 200 state theirs, and the Social Democrats, theirs."

Tuesday also saw results from a fresh survey which show Isamaa as the most supported party among Estonian voters.

This was not the first recent survey to do so, though the party has been reported as neck-and-neck with the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) in other polls, with Reform just behind in third place.

In any case Isamaa's rapid rise in support since he took over the helm has been noted in absolute terms.

In Reinsalu's analysis, the showdown between Reform and EKRE as presented ahead of the March election is in effect an artificially created opposition, which has not fooled the public over the longer term.

This means voters are looking for a third way, he said, noting that many of Isamaa's newly acquired supporters are disaffected former supporters of the current coalition partners.

"The future always brings something new, and the political landscape of Estonia is shifting. They tried to push Estonian politics into a mere confrontation between the Reform Party and EKRE, in the form of a culture war. I think this is a very myopic approach. In this light, a third political choice is needed, and this comes with Isamaa," Reinsalu went on.

Despite the fact that the Riigikogu elections were only eight months ago, the next, in 2027, a strong rating like Isamaa's can give some scope for influencing what goes on with a coalition even when in opposition, Reinsalu said.

"It brings Isamaa a new and special weight when expressing its views. /.../ Democracy does not end with the election results," he said.

"The minimum that people expect is that no foolish things get implemented by the government," he added.

Nonetheless, Reinsalu conceded that he cannot foresee the current coalition collapsing or exiting office.

"The political reality is that the Reform Party carries a special weight, and I have a feeling that this government will continue. [However] a correction must be made regarding the leader of this government," he reiterated.

Reinsalu also referred to sources inside Reform who have suggested that the prime minister (who was this week once again linked with a bid to become next NATO secretary general and whose international media popularity seems to have bounced back after the controversy of late summer – ed.) has been given the necessary time, then will be maneuvered in a Europe-wards direction, "apparently for the position of the European Commission," Reinsalu said.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Esimene stuudio,' interviewer Andres Kuusk.

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