Estonia 200 chair: Coalition talks a power struggle, country comes second

Estonia 200 leader Kristina Kallas. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Estonia 200 party leader Kristina Kallas has said that she is disappointed with all the party leaders in the light of the recent post-election coalition talks.

Ms Kallas' party, despite growing in support in the latter part of 2018 after its formation and official registration as a party, saw that support fall away according to most opinion surveys in the weeks leading up to the elections, and did not get a single seat at the Riigikogu, despite attracting several big names to its roster. The party is however contesting May's European Parliamentary elections.

''I'm disappointed with all the party leaders, they have all failed,'' she told ERR on Wednesday afternoon, putting the blame not only at Centre leader Jüri Ratas' door, but also with Reform leader Kaja Kallas, and all the other party leaders.

Centre has entered day two of coalition talks with the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) after rebuffing Reform at the end of last week, with Isamaa joining them at the table. However, Reform leader Kaja Kallas (no relation) announced today that she was still ready to parley with Centre and that that would be as equals. Reform won 34 seats at the election to Centre's 26.

Kristina Kallas went on to state that it seems to her all the party leaders are focussing on their own interests, and those of their parties, in the maneuvering for a coalition government spot, with the Estonian people a long way in second place.

''Everybody comes to the talks with an attitude of the demands of their party, not what Estonia might need. We're seeing a battle between career politicians at the moment,'' she went on.

Estonia 200 was formed with a state reform at the heart of many of its pronouncements, and included favouring dual citizenship, often stated as not being permitted in Estonia (in fact the picture is a bit more complex than that). Many of its policies overlapped with those of the Social Democratic Party (SDE), and it has been accused of having ''stolen'' votes from that party, which dropped a few seats to just 10 after the 3 March election.

Ms Kallas echoed the statements on her social media page, saying that: ''We don't have leaders today in politics, but instead leaders of parties, who see as their main task securing victory and position for their team, with ministerial posts the cherry on the cake. What we are seeing now is not a plan for leading Estonia over the next four years, but a very real power struggle''.

On the other hand, key areas like state reform, budge reform, education and ensuring growth seem to have been put on the back burner, as they have not been discussed in the coalition talks so far, talks which have mainly focussed on carving up the 16 ministerial posts (including the prime ministership), she says.

''This is party power games, not leadership of the country. I am extremely embarrassed and anguished about it,'' she added.

This has also damaged public confidence in government, she averred.

''Public trust has been damaged, and no confidence in any future coalition can arise from this situation. If such a big chunk of the population doesn't trust any government, how can said government succeed?'' she noted.

Estonia 200 polled 24,448 votes at the election, only missing the 5% threshold needed for Riigikogu seats by a cat's whisker, at 4.7%, making it by some margin the most successful of the parties failing to get any seats, namely the Greens, Richness of Life, the Free Party, and the United Left Party.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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