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Papers: Resignation Rõivas’s “first reasonable step”

Estonia's three national dailies (picture is illustrative).
Estonia's three national dailies (picture is illustrative). Source: ERR

Dailies Postimees, Eesti Päevaleht and Õhtuleht agreed in their Friday editorials that exposing former prime minister Taavi Rõivas’ conduct at a party in Kuala Lumpur was the right thing to do, and that his only option is to resign.

Postimees pointed to the ethics code of Estonian journalists, which states that people who hold political or economic power or have information important to the public are to be treated as participants in public life. “The media’s greater than usual attention to their activities and criticizing them is justified,” the paper quoted the code.

The paper wrote that someone who hasn’t done anything wrong wouldn’t wait a whole day to make an attempt to clear their name, especially not a politician and right before election day. Postimees also called Rõivas’ attempt to dress up the scandal as an attack on his person “embarrassing”: “If the deputy speaker of the Riigikogu parties like a spoiled school boy, then this has to come out before the elections,” the paper wrote.

“Rõivas announced after much procrastination that he is resigning as deputy president of the Riigikogu, as ‘this is the price to pay’. Yes, it is. And it is a turning point in his political career as well,” Postimees added.

In a slightly bizarre reference to a detail in the descriptions of the events that took place in Kuala Lumpur as relayed by Eesti Päevaleht, where Rõivas and his failed conquest are placed between two refrigerators in a local bar, Postimees also added that Rõivas “won’t get rid of the refrigerator” anymore, and that “the shadow of the refrigerator will fall on the Reform Party as well”.

Eesti Päevaleht, the paper that got the ball rolling on the delegation members’ conduct early on Thursday, wrote on Friday morning that Rõivas “embodies and abuses power”, and agreed with Postimees that neither he nor the Reform Party will ever completely recover from what happened. “Throughout the scandal he hasn’t been able to comprehend the inappropriateness of his behavior. Resigning from the office of deputy president of the Riigikogu is the first reasonable step,” Päevaleht wrote.

The paper added that if what happened had been consensual, Rõivas’ “adventure” could have remained a family matter. But his position of power was also intimidating, however attractive it might be at first, Päevaleht wrote: “A man in high office has plenty of ways to influence his victim also after the harassment occurs.”

Õhtuleht was perfectly plain, saying in its headline that “Rõivas’s place isn’t on Toompea” (part of Tallinn where the Estonian parliament and government are located; ed.). It is clear that Rõivas couldn’t hold the gavel and call the Riigikogu to order anymore after the scandal around what happened on the delegation’s trip, the paper wrote. “The same applies to his continuing as a member of the Riigikogu,” it added.

What Õhtuleht sees as the only upside to an embarrassing scandal is the fact that it apparently isn’t possible anymore to sweep these incidents under the rug. At least in public the matter was treated as something deplorable, and such matters could no longer be settled by turning them into an inappropriate joke among old boys, the paper wrote.

Editor: Dario Cavegn


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