Ratas: Centre, EKRE, Isamaa working towards 'quite specific' agreement

Jüri Ratas (right) with EKRE chairman Mart Helme.
Jüri Ratas (right) with EKRE chairman Mart Helme. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The prime minister said on Saturday that the agreement the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) and Isamaa are negotiating will be 'quite specific'. Political commentators across the Estonian media had previously said that a rather vague deal could be expected, given the very different platforms and political ideologies involved.

In the currently ongoing coalition talks between Centre, EKRE and Isamaa, a social-liberal, left-of-the-middle party is essentially negotiating a government with a conservative and a far-right party.

Vague agreement expected previously due to political differences

Not too dissimilar to the outgoing coalition, this means that the partners are headed for trouble concerning several political issues. This is the reason why negotiations in 2016 produced a very generally worded, unspecific agreement, and in turn the expectation so far have been that Centre, EKRE and Isamaa, if at all, will come to something similarly open-ended.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) has now contradicted this notion, saying on Saturday that the opposite is the case, and that the agreement will in fact be quite specific.

Mr Ratas said that they are currently filling in spending projections as they go along, which should then serve to show the negotiating parties where money could still be squeezed out of the equation for eg the additional police officers and a further boost to child benefits, as demanded by EKRE in its 2018/2019 campaign platform.

Ratas insisting on principle of equitable coalition government

Given the distance between the parties' different political positions, equitable terms and everyone being able to save face is essential, Mr Ratas said.

With it, Mr Ratas continues on a course of equal treatment of partners in government, a principle he has stood by since he was made prime minister in 2016, and something he has more recently demanded of the Reform Party as well as a condition for coalition agreements.

The current talks with the right and far-right end of the incoming Riigikogu's political spectrum were indeed prompted by the Reform Party's at least initial refusal to start talks on equal terms.

"Politics is the art of compromise," the prime minister told journalists on Saturday, commenting on Centre's talks with EKRE and Isamaa. "We aren't looking at the exact percentage of who is losing what."

Mr Ratas has stressed on several occasions that his party's talks with EKRE, seen by many Estonian voters as a party with an unacceptable political direction, aim at promoting the cohesion of Estonian society. Several prominent members of Centre have also pointed out that ignoring a fifth of voters is not an appropriate course for Estonian politics.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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