Proposed coalition nearly all-male, chock full of Eurosceptics, say rivals

Centre Party, EKRE and Isamaa coalition agreement signing.
Centre Party, EKRE and Isamaa coalition agreement signing. Source: Aurelia Minev/ERR

Comment on the coaltion agreement signed into being on Monday between the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, has come from leading members of the two parties left out of the deal, namely Reform and the Social Democratic Party (SDE), BNS reports.

While the proposed Centre/EKRE/Isamaa coalition is not fact – it would need first for prime ministerial nominee Kaja Kallas to have her coalition with SDE voted out at the Riigikogu, followed by passing its own Riigikogu vote, assuming President Kersti Kaljulaid nominated Jüri Ratas as the second prime ministerial candidate – today's signing has crystallised things somewhat.

Reform MEP and former foreign minister Urmas Paet noted that key ministries which would interface most with the EU, including the European Commission, would be filled with Eurosceptics, under the Centre/EKRE/Isamaa lineup.

"In the near future, negotiations on the EU's financial framework for 2021-2027 will kick off, which will also have a direct effect on Estonia,'' said Mr Paet, going on to enumerate all five of EKRE's proposed ministers in the recent coalition deal.

''The key role in this will be held by the future minister of finance [Martin Helme-ed.], who unfortunately holds in low regard the prognoses by Estonia's own Ministry of Finance, but also by the minister of agriculture [Mart Järvik -ed.] and the minister of the environment [Rene Kokk–ed.]," Mr Paet said, adding that the minister of the interior [Mart Helme, EKRE leader-ed.], too, would have to work in close cooperation with his EU counterparts.

EKRE has consistently voiced a strongly eurosceptic line.

"The same obviously goes for the minister of foreign trade [Marti Kuusik-ed.] as the free trade agreements, for instance, fall under the shared competence of the EU," Mr Paet noted.

"Thus, the Centre Party and Isamaa have largely entrusted EKRE with the cooperation between Estonia and the rest of the EU, as well as the negotiations regarding Estonia's part in future EU budgets."

"The responsibility is therefore notable, and missteps could also prove financially costly for Estonia," Mr Paet, who was elected to the European Parliament in 2014 and sits with the ALDE group, continued.

Far fewer women than last administration

In any case, the importance of daily cooperation and communication with the other EU members and the European Commission must not be underestimated. For starters, however, the future minister of finance would do well to take seriously the work and competence of the Ministry of Finance," he added.

Meanwhile, SDE leader Jevgeni Ossinovsku expressed concern about the low number of women in the proposed ministerial lineup. Of the 15 posts, only two women, Mailis Reps (Centre, education) and Riina Solman of Isamaa (population), are women, compared with five in the outgoing government, and 29 women MPs in the 101-seat Riigikogu.

"Backwards, comrades!'' Mr Ossinovski wrote on his social media page, according to BNS.

''The ratio of women in the outgoing government was five out of fifteen, thus a third of the ministers were women," Mr Ossinovski continued.

"This reflects the new government's vision of women's role in the society more broadly. Namely, the words 'gender balance', 'gender equality', 'violence against women', 'women's rights', and even 'gender pay gap' (with ours being the largest in the EU) are not discussed once in the coalition agreement!" he noted.

"Women are only mentioned in one promise, which aims to lay down in the Constitution that a marriage is a union of a man and a woman,'' Mr Ossinovski continued, referring to an EKRE policy aimed at doing just that. Estonia currently does not have same-sex marriage enshrined in law, though a Registered Partnership Act, often referred to colloquially as the cohabitation act, passed into law in 2014.

Five of SDE's nine European Parliamentary candidates are women, including the number one on the list, Marina Kaljurand. The party had three women at various times in ministerial posts in the outgoing administration: Urve Palo, Riina Sikkut and Katri Raik, with Marju Lauristin sitting as an MEP 2014-2017.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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