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Reform's Michal roasts coalition parties last hurrah budget

Kristen Michal talks to ERR's Liisu Lass on talk show 'Terevisioon'.
Kristen Michal talks to ERR's Liisu Lass on talk show 'Terevisioon'. Source: ERR

Claims that the opposition in the Riigikogu will hinder the ruling coalition now the latter is in a minority have been met with a certain amount of derision by a leading member of the opposition, Kristen Michal (Reform), who roasted each of the three coalition parties, the Centre Party, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Isamaa/Pro Patria in turn.


Speaking on ETV's Terevision on Tuesday, Mr Michal said that the observation, made by foreign minister Sven Mikser (SDE) on Monday, was a bit like saying it might rain in Estonia in November.

Nonetheless, said Mr Michal, Reform does not want to cause confusion for confusion's sake, but make substantive actions for the post-election landscape.

''We don't even have a minority government here, but one which has to depend on people like [former SDE minister] Urve Palo and [former Centre Party MP] Olga Ivanova, as well as some members of [opposition parties] EKRE and the Free Party,'' said Mr Michal.


''I have no doubts that should Ms. Ivanova be concerned with spurious issues like citizenship, [Centre Party MEP and champion of undefined citizens' rights] Yana Toom will surely go along with that,'' continued Mr Michal.

Mr Michal, a minister when Reform were in office to November 2016 and at one point tipped as a possible party leader, explained his party would always act responsibly, but the fragmented nature of the current Riigikogu meant there was a lack of potential to form a coherent bloc.

''We fully expect this 'ambitious' government to receive honourable assessment of its activities come March,'' Mr Michal continued. The parliamentary elections are on 3 March 2019.

Each coalition member has their price, and personal aims were being catered to, something apparent from the state budget currently passing through the Riigikogu, said Mr Michal.

Mr Michal also spoke of his party's desire to remove 'foolish' components from the state budget, such as the provision of free public transport, long in place in Tallinn, which was rolled out to much of provincial Estonia in the summer. Essentially this budget does not adequately priortise things, he said.

''Tax and excise duties cuts were not in the budget and funds were put towards 'nice' ends,'' he said, noting that the budget had no vision and was merely a redistribution of 'good times'.''

''This is the last hurrah, the end-of-the-party budget,'' he continued. ''This gives us hope for the elections, though, since no coalition can keep asking for more and more. What used to be the hallmark of political culture in Tallinn, where deals were done via individuals, has now reached the state level,'' he continued, making an oblique reference to the Centre Party's way of doing things in Tallinn spreading to the Riigikogu since Centre became the majority coalition party there.

Pro Patria

''For example a church congregation with 40 members was given €400,00,'' he said, referring to Pro Patria's donation to the construction of a church in Jõgeva, something which even astounded the congregation, he said.

Other examples of wasteful spending include renovations to school buildings in schools due to close, or donations to Pro Patria's own children's institute (''Eesti Pere Sihtkapital'') which could simply be Pro Patria providing for its own once it is out of office.

Monday's departure of MP Tiina Kangro, who voted with Pro Patria although she wasn't a party member, tipped the balance in favour of the opposition parties, who now have 51 seats to the coalition's 50.

The original interview (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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