Centre, EKRE and Isamaa name their coalition negotiators
Isamaa and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) have unveiled their representatives in the upcoming coalition talks with the Centre Party.
Isamaa is to be represented by party leader Helir-Valdor Seeder, former finance minister Sven Sester, party secretary general Priit Sibul and outgoing justice minister Urmas Reinsalu, the party announced on Tuesday afternoon.
EKRE's negotiators will be party leader Mart Helme, his son, Martin Helme, an MP, plus party board member Rene Kokk, with the fourth spot to be rotated amongst various representatives depending on the topic under discussion, the party said.
Centre, which was the party that extended the offer of talks to EKRE and Isamaa, is to be represented by party leader and outgoing prime minister Jüri Ratas, outgoing education minister Mailis Reps, city council leader Mikhail Kõlvart and party vice-chair Enn Eesmaa.
''I'm going to the table optimistically, but if things are to go smoothly, then all the parties will need to have a free hand in their choices," said Helir-Valdor Seeder on Monday.
A Centre-EKRE-Isamaa coalition would have between it 57 seats, comfortably above the required 51 seats necessary for a Riigikogu majority.
Siret Kotka-Repinski to replace Raimond Kaljulaid on Centre board
Meanwhile, Siret Kotka-Repinski is to take Raimond Kaljulaid's vacated Centre Party board spot, after the latter quit the role in the wake of the proposed EKRE talks. Ms Kotka-Repinski is an MP and leader of Centre's Lääne-Viru County branch.
Speaking about the impending talks, she added that parties must seek to stand up for their voters, hence her support for the coalition talks.
She added that whilst the prospect of talks with EKRE and Isamaa are contentious issues in the party, the best solution for being heard is sitting down together to discuss concerns.
"This is why Centre, too, must consider all options on whether and how it should meet the expectations that the voters have signaled with their vote, be these social or education issues, wage growth in Estonia, or security. Important goals can first and foremost be implemented within the government," she said, noting that the talks are at a consultative stage.
Jüri Ratas rejects claims Centre is in crisis
"Currently, none of the parties are able to implement their program alone. Thus, opportunities for cooperation must be sought, and preliminary consultations will show if and on what terms parties are willing to make concessions. The principle that each person in Estonia must be looked out for is, in any case, the most important thing and something we cannot abandon," she added.
Centre leader Jüri Ratas said earlier on Tuesday that rumours of a rupture in the party on the issue of talks with EKRE were exaggerated, adding that his main goal was not to hold on as prime minister and head of the government at all costs.
''Raimond Kaljulaid received great support in the Riigikogu elections in North Tallinn, but a large part of this support was based on Centre Party standpoints in general ... It is important that the Centre Party continues to be able to stand up for its principles. We cannot exclude the possibility of Centre being in opposition, but right now we are working towards building a coalition. As to the party breaking up, these are exaggerated rumours,'' he said.
Credence could be given to Mr Ratas' claims by the fact that Mikhail Kõlvart, who has been subject to EKRE attacks in the past and, like Raimond Kaljulaid voted against discussions with that party, is nonetheless one of Centre's negotiators.
The three party leaders, Mr Ratas, Mr Seeder and Mr Helme, also met on Tuesday afternoon.
Editor: Andrew Whyte