Klaas: Russia trade scandal certainly affects Reform Party's ratings

Urmas Klaas.
Urmas Klaas. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

In an interview with ERR before to the party's general congress today, Urmas Klaas, the mayor of Tartu and a member of the Reform Party's board, said that the scandal involving the spouse of Kaja Kallas has affected support for both the prime minister and the Reform Party.

How is the Reform Party doing now?

The Reform Party, as the leading party in the government, is having a difficult time because the decisions that have been made and the decisions that need to be made are quite unpopular. But it's also hard to imagine not making them. Only time will tell, but we have to fix many areas of the state, especially the state's finance.

The Reform Party's rating is at its lowest level in four years, according to several polls. You mentioned difficult decisions. But how much of a role do you think Kaja Kallas' husband's scandal plays in this?

It certainly has an impact on the prime minister's and the party's ratings. There is no doubt about that.

Should Kaja Kallas have responded differently in retrospect? Should she have taken responsibility right away?

I think that many people were under-informed in the early days. So that information should definitely have been shared more.

What do you expect from the general congress?

The General Congress is the place where party members from all over Estonia, from all regions of Estonia, come together. And I expect both our prime minister and members of the government to speak honestly and clearly about the situation we are in as a country today.

What is the situation in our different areas? We see teachers on strike and difficult financial circumstances in government. We can see that there is some dissatisfaction here and there. I want us to discuss this problem as objectively as possible.

I want a government action plan outlining what needs to be done to address this situation. The Reform Party has always said these things clearly, and I hope that this will continue today. And, of course, the newly elected board will have to give all of its thought and activity to resolving these issues and moving forward as an organization.

Is it time for a change in the Reform Party? What does it mean to confront the situation directly?

This forward-looking approach means making an accurate assessment of the situation and moving forward with a clear vision. The problem, in my opinion, is that the Reform Party government's members must be clearer in their messages and we must stay on course by adhering to our own and our party's guiding principles. If the messages are unclear, if the messages are scattered, then in general, these acts can turn out the same.

I still hope to see, and assume that there is concreteness in our actions, that there is concreteness in our messages, and that they must be conveyed to people in this way.

There has been a lot of speculation about whether Kaja Kallas will set her sights on Brussels this spring. Are you waiting for a signal?

Of course, when the media is speculating and analysts are speculating about whether the prime minister is going to take on one role or another, or whether she is going to run for the post of NATO Secretary General or not, against the backdrop of all this talk, it is very good if Kaja Kallas herself says what her plans and aspirations are, and how she thinks about her future.

But we have a very clear procedure in our party for drawing up the lists for the European Parliament. So I cannot really say that I am going to run in the European elections. But of course, the leader of a party always has a say, and that is quite logical.

There is right now a practice that sitting prime ministers and party leaders do not run for the European Parliament, but this is not etched in stone.


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Kristina Kersa

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