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Kallas prime minister role offer not sincere, says Centre

Kaja Kallas is back in the spotlight again having lain relatively low after the EKRE-KEI discussions started.
Kaja Kallas is back in the spotlight again having lain relatively low after the EKRE-KEI discussions started. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Centre Party has said that statements made by Reform Party leader Kaja Kallas on Tuesday evening where she indicated that, in the event of a Reform-Centre coalition, the latter could take the prime minister spot, were not sincere, according to daily Postimees as quoted by BNS.

Ms Kallas made her remarks on ETV current affairs show Esimene stuudio, noting that the views were her own rather than the party's as a whole.

When asked by presenter Johannes Tralla if she would now be prepared offer up the seat to Centre leader and incumbent prime minister Jüri Ratas, Ms Kallas said that:

"I have thought that, indeed, if the price is the question, who is prime minister, then perhaps the ambitions of one person are too high a price to pay,'' she said.

At the same time, Ms Kallas was quick to add a caveat.

''I am also thinking the converse: If I were to make that proposal, ie. Say 'fair enough, let's do it, and I give it up', do you really believe that Jüri Ratas would accept? Second, I do not have the mandate to surrender on behalf my party and voters first thing before the start of negotiations," she said.

Reform won the largest number of seats, 34, at the general election on 3 March, but since then has found itself in the cold. It had already ruled out the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and was then rebuffed by Centre who went off to the negotiation table with EKRE and Isamaa for somewhat of a centrist/conservative/nationalist rainbow lineup which is still in progress at present, and popularly known as EKRE-KEI.

That only left the Social Democratic Party (SDE) which, although amongst the first to speak up post-election, saying it could do a deal with Reform, lacks sufficient seats (10) for the two to get a parliamentary majority.

Centre Party spokesperson Andre Hanimägi said on Wednesday that Ms Kallas' offer is neither his party's goal nor has it been on the cards.

"It is rhetoric that is rather more related to today's consultations between the three parties,'' said Mr Hanimägi, noting that it was more aimed at public consumption rather than any sincere offer.

Repeating the above patter, however, Mr Hanimägi also hedged his bets by not shutting the door on the proposal completely.

''At the same time, it will undoubtedly be exciting to see whether Kaja Kallas' idea can also find support from her fellow party members, and when the board of the Reform Party might forward this decision to the Centre Party," he continued.

"In any case, the Center Party is guided by the principle of holding one negotiation at a time," he added.

As noted the offer does not come from the Reform Party as a whole. Former Reform prime minister Andrus Ansip said on Wednesday that he didn't think relinquishing the prime ministerial post would be a sensible move.

A Reform-Centre coalition would have 60 Riigikogu seats; EKRE-KEI would have just under at 57.

Reform has plenty of internal factional tensions, but Centre is notoriously criss-crossed with battle lines along demographic, regional and other demarcations. The EKRE-KEI talks have already taken Raimond Kaljulaid away from the official party line, though a core of Centre members has yet to have crystallised around him on the issue.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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