In an interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam published on Wednesday, the leader of the Social Democrats (SDE), Jevgeni Ossinovski, explained the party's decision not to participate in the vote against Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu. Ossinovski made it very clear that their stance had nothing to do with actual trust in Urmas Reinsalu.
Already in the previous government of Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform), Ossinovski had frequent skirmishes with Reinsalu. In his interview with ERR, he described the justice minister as "generally a scheming man" who doesn't just write up a few statements and fires them away without thinking.
Though Ossinovski didn't make it quite as clear as EKRE's Martin Helme leading up to the no-confidence vote against Reinsalu on Jan. 24, there remained the suggestion that Reinsalu would have had an ulterior motive when he drew plenty of fire away from President Kersti Kaljulaid in the matter concerning her controversial decision to commission NO99 and Tiit Ojasoo for the cultural part of this year's Independence Day reception (ERR News reported).
Helme, chairman of the parliamentary group of the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE), said before the vote that Reinsalu deliberately caused a scandal to spare the president further embarrassment.
Since SDE's decision a day before the vote that its MPs wouldn't participate, several members of the party have pointed out that the decision was made to avoid a government crisis.
As President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor (SDE) put it, the party's voters are as interested in SDE's remaining in government as they are in the condemnation of violence against women. The decision made by the party's leadership, then, was to make sure the current government would continue.
Ossinovski also pointed out that there is the problem of the alternative. If SDE lets the coalition collapse, there is no real alternative to the current prime minister, Jüri Ratas (Center). The only other party with a sufficient majority to lead the government is Reform, and they neither have the wish nor the political ability to replace the Center Party before the next elections, Ossinovski said.
In consequence, SDE's voting Reinsalu out of office would have triggered a crisis, and that would have been "irresponsible towards the state", he added.
Editor: Dario Cavegn