Tsahkna, Ossinovski see two options for new government

Jevgeni Ossinovski and Margus Tsahkna at the ERR News Building in Tallinn.  24 October 2018.
Jevgeni Ossinovski and Margus Tsahkna at the ERR News Building in Tallinn. 24 October 2018. Source: ERR

Appearing on ERR's live interview broadcast Otse Uudistemajast, Eesti 200 leader Margus Tsahkna and Social Democratic Party (SDE) chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski analysed which political parties are most likely to form a coalition government following the 2019 Riigikogu elections next March.

Tsahkna found that if Estonia 200 is able to get on its feet, this will change up the options available to people who espouse liberal ways of thinking.

"This means that the Reform Party will get fewer votes, and some will be taken from the Social Democrats," he predicted. "There are people in the Free Party as well who are currently considering what to do with their lives. Maybe something from Pro Patria which doesn't want to head in the direction things have gone. If this is the case, the Centre Party will win the elections."

It can be expected that the President of Estonia will task the winner of the elections with forming a new government, after which the Centre Party will have a big decision to make.

"If it's possible that together with the Reform Party they do still end up earning 51 seats [in the 101-seat Riigikogu], then pure logic would dictate that it would be easier to govern together," Tsahkna explained. "Should Reform be faced with remaining in the opposition, then half of the party will fall apart. Thus I believe that the price [Centre chairman] Jüri Ratas will offer [Reform chairwoman] Kaja Kallas will not be high."

According to Tsahkna, a former chairman of the Pro Patria Party, still known then as the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL), Estonia 200 is counting on people's interest in a fresh coalition and considers a coalition consisting of the Social Democrats, Estonia 200 and the winner of the elections to be a logical outcome.

He considered it less likely that the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) would be asked to join a coalition by the winner.

Far-right movements' influence felt throughout Europe

Ossinovski, meanwhile, said that prophesying is a thankless job, but it can be said already that one effect of far-right movements throughout Europe has been the increasing difficulty of forming actually functional and reasonable government coalitions.

"We have seen this in Germany, Italy, and in Sweden, as the most recent example," said the SDE chairman, adding that it was very likely that it will be difficult to form a government on the morning of 4 March.

"In a situation in which the Centre Party and the Reform Party alike on one hand condemn EKRE's comments, but on the other are technically leaving the door open in order to get into the government in any case, the risk of some kind of government being attempted to be formed with EKRE is relatively high," Ossinovski said, contrasting Tsahkna's earlier evaluation.

According to the party chair, the Social Democrats' goal is to earn enough seats in the Riigikogu to ensure that this would not be possible.

SDE is prepared to form a government with either the Centre Party or Reform. "We have governed with both, and both are capable of leading the government together with us," Ossinovski said. "In 27 years, we have learned to compromise on socio-economic matters, and we are capable of continuing to do so in the future."

Tsahkna recalled that all recent elections have centred around one primary issue — seeing who could crack former longtime Centre Party chairman Edgar Savisaar in the head with the biggest bat. Who managed to do that, won the elections, and debates with substance were of secondary or tertiary importance.

"The political landscape has entirely changed by now," he said. "For practically the first time, voters have the opportunity to vote for any party, and no one is outright out of the question."

The next Riigikogu elections are scheduled to take place on 3 March 2019.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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