Toom: Centre vote on EKRE, Isamaa talks first that ran along ethnic lines

Yana Toom on ERR's Ringvaade program, 15 March 2019.
Yana Toom on ERR's Ringvaade program, 15 March 2019. Source: Screen still/ERR

According to Estonian MEP Yana Toom (Centre/ALDE), the party board meeting where the decision was made to enter coalition talks with EKRE and Isamaa triggered the formation of a "Russian wing" in the Centre Party. Ms Toom said that this is a new situation, and that such a wing hadn't previously existed.

Ms Toom told ERR's Ringvaade current affairs program on Friday that she continues to be in low spirits because of her party's ongoing coalition talks with the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) and Isamaa.

"[EKRE] isn't a party I would want to be with in a coalition," Ms Toom said. "That's just how it is. I don't think that the voters would forgive me if I did." She added that if this comes up again in a board meeting, she will likely vote against such a coalition.

"Perhaps we've got a miracle in store and Helme and Seeder suddenly say that there won't be a changeover to 100% Estonian-speaking education, and that everyone with a grey passport will be made a citizen," she joked. "Then I'd tell myself, okay Toom, perhaps this is a deal with the devil, but at least we get a few things done we've been fighting for."

Asked if the Centre Party is headed for a split, Ms Toom said that the vote in favour of coalition talks with EKRE and Isamaa had run along an ethnic divide for the first time. "This hadn't happened before, which means that there indeed is a so-called 'Russian wing' in the party," Ms Toom said.

She added that in the past she always rejected the notion of an ethnic divide within the Centre Party, but that the situation has changed.

Purely mathematically speaking, Centre, EKRE and Isamaa of course have the votes in the Riigikogu that it takes to form a majority government, Ms Toom said. But seeing as chairwoman of the Reform Party, Kaja Kallas, will likely be the first to be given the task to form a government, Centre-EKRE-Isamaa continues to be just one of several options.

"I wouldn't see this as the only option at this point, not by a long shot," Ms Toom said.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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