Speaking in an interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam, Prime Minister and Centre Party chairman Jüri Ratas wished the Estonia 200 political movement and Artur Talvik good luck with their respective plans to establish a new political party, as neither newcomer will win over any Centre voters anyway.
"First of all, good luck to them — I think that the emergence of new forces is a positive thing," Ratas said, recalling the establishment of the Estonian Greens, Free Party, Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and even the Res Publica Party. "Only, following the headline, which is always thrilling and lovely, you need substance, you need people, and you need people that will lead the whole thing. So good luck to Estonia 200 and Artur Talvik."
He found that the newcomers do have potential, but added that there is still half a year to go until the 2019 Riigikogu elections, and that necessary for success is "a lot of dialogue with voters; big headlines alone are not enough." He hoped, however, that the introduction of new political parties to the election campaign will also see an increase in voter turnout.
The prime minister did not agree with claims, however, that the campaign promises of the so-called "old parties" have too much money and too little long-term perspective regarding how Estonia can ensure its future for the next 100 years as well, as stressed by the Estonia 200 political movement, for example.
"I believe that there is not a single party that would say that they don't care about what lays ahead in 100 years," he said.
According to Ratas, the Centre Party is not afraid of newcomers on the political landscape, as according to several political observers, they do not threaten to steal any votes from the Centre Party.
"We want to grow our voter base, and we are asking for the support of more of the people of Estonia than we had three and a half years ago [at the most recent Riigikogu elections], because we want to win these elections," the prime minister said.
Those concerned are EKRE, who are afraid of the splintering of protest votes, and the Reform Party, the Pro Patria Party and the Social Democratic Party (SDE), who are worried about the survival of their voter bases.
"I don't believe that current parties should say that newcomers are good, but this newcomer should join us and that newcomer maybe shouldn't come at all," Ratas said. "On the contrary — I'm saying that competition is welcome. This competition is in a sense within the coalition as well — in a good sense — meaning that compromise and a consensus must be sought in order to move forward."
Editor: Aili Vahtla