Raimond Kaljulaid launches campaign against including EKRE in coalition

Raimond Kaljulaid talking to Prime Minister and Centre Party leader Jüri Ratas, days before he quit the Centre Party.
Raimond Kaljulaid talking to Prime Minister and Centre Party leader Jüri Ratas, days before he quit the Centre Party. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Raimond Kaljulaid, the city district elder of Põhja-Tallinn who was elected to the Riigikogu as a member of the Centre Party, announced on Thursday that he has launched a campaign against the inclusion of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) in the potential future government coalition.

"Several of my colleagues have confirmed that they intend to vote on the party board and in the council against including EKRE in the government," Mr Kaljulaid wrote in his blog and in a press release, adding that he believed that society also understood that the real front line would be in the Riigikogu.

"I understand that this is quite unprecedented and new, that a party member would appeal to their colleagues this way, but these are unusual times, and unusual will be detrimental to Estonia as well if EKRE gets into the government," he warned.

Mr Kaljulaid said that the leaders of the Centre Party, Isamaa and EKRE are banking on 57 mandates in the 101-seat Riigikogu.

"It would suffice if seven Centre Party politicians say that they cannot support including EKRE in the government and are prepared to join the Riigikogu and vote accordingly," he highlighted, adding that in this case, it wouldn't be possible for negotiations to continue.

"In this way, this message will certainly reach a majority of representatives of the Russian community, and what is going on on Toompea Hill will not remain a secret before them," the Centre politician said, adding that he had wanted to order paid ads for his campaign on the Russian TV channel PBK, but the latter refused to run them. "[Thus] I am forced to use other channels."

Several Centre Party members elected on 3 March to the Riigikogu have stated that they do not support the formation of a government coalition including EKRE, including Mihhail Kõlvart, Yana Toom, Vladimir Svet, Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski, and Mr Kaljulaid himself.

Former Minister of Defence Jüri Luik, a member of Isamaa likewise elected to the Riigikogu this month, is likewise against forming a coalition with EKRE.

Simson: I wouldn't have made this choice

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure and Centre Party deputy chairwoman Kadri Simson said at Thursday's government press conference that if there's one thing Mr Kaljulaid does well, it's running campaigns.

"Politicians have different styles, and some just jump from campaign to campaign," Ms Simson said. "I believe that it is easier for a party member to express their views within their party than via mass media or social networks, but in terms of reputation, the solution that Kaljulaid has chosen will have a more positive impact on him personally, and a more negative one on the party."

According to the deputy chair, discussions, meetings and clarification efforts are constantly taking place within the party regarding why some or another decision is made.

"Waiving these forums and taking it to Facebook, that was purely his own personal decision," Ms Simson commented. "I wouldn't have made such a choice."

Minister of the Environment Siim Kiisler, a member of Isamaa, agreed with Ms Simson that Mr Kaljulaid is a professional campaigner.

"He very successfully ran several campaigns for Edgar Savisaar," Mr Kiisler said, referring to the former longtime Centre Party chairman. "Someone who runs campaigns for Edgar Savisaar — I wouldn't be so sure of somene when it comes to very idealistic considerations."

The Centre Party earned 26, EKRE 19 and Isamaa 12 seats in the Riigikogu in the 3 March elections.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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