Martin Helme: Kallas attempt to form government will be a farce

Centre MP Kaido Höövelson and EKRE MP Martin Helme at the inaugural sitting of the XIV Riigikogu on Thursday. 4 April 2019.
Centre MP Kaido Höövelson and EKRE MP Martin Helme at the inaugural sitting of the XIV Riigikogu on Thursday. 4 April 2019. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MP Martin Helme does not believe that Reform chairwoman Kaja Kallas, named candidate for prime minister by President Kersti Kaljulaid on Friday morning, will be successful in forming a government as tasked, and finds that the longer Reform draws out its own coalition talks, the more of a farce it will all become.

Mr Helme told told ERR on Friday that his taking up the position of parliamentary group chairman is only temporary, and his plan is to serve as a member of the government.

"We have a new parliamentary group, four members of which are previous MPs and the rest of whom are new members," he said. "And as the Reform Party intends to draw out and play its government formation game as long as possible, then in order to get our new and bigger makeup on the right track and help our parliamentary group deputy chairs settle into their roles, I will be parliamentary group chairman until I join the government. And familiarise them with the inner workings of the job."

He declined to say, however, which minister position he would prefer.

"One thing is what I would like," Mr Helme explained. "Another thing is what is agreed upon in the course of coalition negotiations. And yet a third is where the chairman of the party directs me to go. Every ministry is important, and I won't start revealing what we want and how far we have gotten in our negotiations. This will all become clear this upcoming Saturday."

President Kersti Kaljulaid on Friday tasked Kaja Kallas, the chairwoman of the 2019 Riigikogu election-winning Reform Party, with forming a new government. ERR asked Mr Helme whether this might put a dent in the ongoing Centre-EKRE-Isamaa coalition talks.

"I don't see this as being possible," he replied. "Rather there is a risk that they will make a laughingstock of themselves. When a clearly agreed-upon coalition exists that has a majority, then to get together alongside this day after day and put together some coalition of one's own, this could very quickly become a farce."

Referendums included in agreement

Asked what issues important to EKRE ended up in the coalition agreement to be introduced on Saturday, the MP highlighted popular initiatives first and foremost.

"Popular initiatives and referendums — I'd rather not reveal any more details yet," he said. "But we have introduced what we have agreed upon to our parliamentary group and council and the general response has been that we can be content with the negotiated content."

Asked by ERR what he thought of Isamaa chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder's decision not to join the government, Mr Helme said that this was Mr Seeder's own personal choice, which he will have to explain for himself.

"But this is not unprecedented in Estonia," he continued. "As far as I know, [Centre chairman] Jüri Ratas would have preferred that the chairmen of every coalition party be in the government, but he did not really insist on it either."

Mr Seeder was elected First Vice-President of the Riigikogu with 55 votes on Thursday.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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