Toomas Sildam: Coalition now fact, is ''100 hate-free days'' achievable?

President Kaljulaid signing-in the new coalition on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and education minister Mailis Reps (both Centre) look on. Will financial pressures in realising its agreement promises hinder the 100 hate-free days she requests? Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

With the signing into being of the new government coalition on Wednesday, ERR's senior political analyst Toomas Sildam appeared on ETV current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera to take stock.

First of all, the power balance, with 56 seats in the 101-seat Riigikogu, gives quite a comfortable margin for the alliance of the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), and Isamaa, at least in the early stages, Mr Sildam told Aktuaalne kaamera's Priit Kuusk.

The previous coalition made up of Centre, Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) hobbled home with under the 51-seat majority, after resignations from Centre and SDE in 2018.

However, of particular interest is the President's words prior to signing the agreement. In her speech, Ms Kaljulaid called for 100 ''hate-free'' days from and for the new administration. Not, Mr Sildam noted, 100 criticism-free days, which would be impossible, but free of hate.

In so doing, it appears President Kaljulaid is reconciling the fact that she does not get to form the government herself, only to appoint one, which she duly did even though her original appointee, Reform leader and election ''winner'' Kaja Kallas, failed to get a sufficient majority at the Riigikogu, and is now in opposition.

Mr Sildam noted that 100 hate-free days was appropriate enough. The President did not name names, but everyone knows who she was referring to – EKRE. Even that party's leader, Mart Helme, had recently noted that the transition from opposition, to office, was a difficult one, for a nationalist party like his.

But nonetheless here we are. All of the electorate, over 460,000 people who voted for all the parties other than EKRE – Reform, Centre, SDE, Isamaa, Estonia 200, the Greens, the Free Party, and Richness of Life – now have to look at the reality that EKRE is in office and must be wondering whether what has happened will either normalise malice or, conversely, have the effect of kicking it out.

Nonetheless, 100 days will be a long time to stay hate free, when thinking about the events of recent months, or even years, Mr Sildam said, not least since the European parliamentary elections are just round the corner in late May. We are likely, though, to see the Centre/Isamaa/EKRE coalition at the Stenbock House, the seat of government, for some time to come, Mr Sildam thought.

One thing it won't be able to muster up, however, is 100 cash-free days, Mr Sildam said. The new coalition needs to put its pre-election promises, and coalition agreement policies, quickly into action, and this can only be done with state budge strategy decisions and others related to finance.

And there are plenty such things on the table – child benefits, increases to pensions, road construction; all of this costs money

A lack of money can often make people angry. We will see how this plays out for the government parties too, Mr Sildam said.

The original Aktuaalne kaamera broadcast (in Estonian) is here.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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