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Foreign minister says Reform smell blood

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) at the UN General Assembly in New York. 25 September 2018.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) at the UN General Assembly in New York. 25 September 2018. Source: ERR

Whereas prime minister and coalition majority party leader Jüri Ratas (Centre) and minority coalition Isamaa/Pro Patria party leader Helir-Valdor Seeder were sanguine on the government's ability to weather the storm following the departure of an MP, Tiina Kangro, from Pro Patria and therefore the coalition's voting group on Monday, tipping the balance of power away from the coalition for the first time, foreign minister Sven Mikser of the Social Democratic Party has taken a less optimistic line.

"Whilst the government will presumably remain in place until the elections, a passionate, not to say bloody, political fight can be expected before the end of the year," Mr. Mikser wrote on his social media account on Monday. This fight will exacerbate the expected jostling for position as the presumed government-in-waiting party, Reform, tries to line things up ahead of its (again, presumed) election win in March.

The coalition is down to 50 seats out of 101 at the Riigikogu and dependent on free agents such as Urve Palo, who left SDE and the government in summer but pledged to continue voting with them, and any opposition members in the Free Party and EKRE who might help them out.

Reform toying with its prey?

The opposition Reform Party was already the largest party at the Riigikogu, with 30 seats to Centre's 25.

"I can agree with [political analyst] Tõnis Saarts: It is extremely unlikely that the leading power of the opposition, the Reform Party, has a serious desire to start forming a new government before the elections,'' said Mr. Mikser.

''However, it would like to see Ratas' government, fatally wounded, and staggering over the finish line in March next year. The kind of blows which do not kill, but cripple, can indeed be planned against the minority government during the intervening months," Mr. Mikser stated.

These body blows could take the form of trying to knock bills off course as they progress through the Riigikogu by voting for amendment proposals, or singling out and picking on a more vulnerable junior minister in order to undermine confidence in the government.

Ms. Kangro left Pro Patria's voting bloc (she was never a party member) on the issue of world view differences with the other two more left of Centre coalition parties and what she saw as the continued frustration of social policies which she wished to implement, particularly concerning people with disabilities, whose rights she has championed.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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