I won't go against my party, says Centre MEP

Yana Toom and Jüri Ratas at Centre's election party, May 26, 2019.
Yana Toom and Jüri Ratas at Centre's election party, May 26, 2019. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Centre Party MEP Yana Toom says party comes first even as its partnership with the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is problematic, as the coalition government faces a vote of no-confidence from opposition Reform Party. Toom had previously been critical of Centre being in office EKRE whose ministers attempted to unilaterally remove Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) chief Elmar Vaher this week.

"I can have disagreements with my fellow party members and will continue to do so, but this shouldn't be taken to mean that that I am in favor of a no-confidence motion in Jüri Ratas as prime minister," Toom said, according to ERR's online Estonian news.

Yana Toom is the party's sole MEP having been returned for a second term at the May European elections. She has raised the issue of stateless persons or persons of undetermined citizenship, often referred to as "grey passport" holders, predominantly Russian speakers who came to Estonia during the Soviet era, during her time at the parliament.

Toom also stressed her disapproval of members of EKRE.

"In my opinion, how EKRE have been behaving is not normal, but I repeat, this does not mean I would somehow approve of a no-confidence motion in Jüri Ratas," Toom continued.

Finance minister Martin Helme, deputizing for his father while the latter was on vacation Thursday, attempted to serve resignation papers to the PPA's director general, Elmar Vaher. Vaher said he was staying put, and received the full backing of the prime minister. Interior minister Mart Helme repeated the call later on on the Thursday, which began with a leaked internal PPA communication where Vaher said the minstry planned around 150 redundancies at the PPA. The two EKRE ministers strenuously rejected this, saying Vaher had used his own staff as a human shield.

The move was condemned by the two opposition parties, Reform and the Social Democratic Party (SDE). Reform announced at its party summer days event on Saturday that it wants to put the no-confidence vote in the government to the Riigikogu ahead of the chamber returning to office in September, via an extraordinary session. The prime minister announced there was no crisis after meeting with both the Helmes on Friday evening.

"The fact that EKRE does not know how to handle this [situation] better is, of course, very sad, but Jüri Ratas will certainly do everything in his power to avoid conflicts in the future, "Toom continued.

For any no-confidence motion to pass, it would require at least half a dozen Mps from the three coalition parties to vote in its favor. Reform already brought a no-confidence motion against interior minister Mart Helme in early June. That time, the motion failed 53 votes to 46, with two abstentions.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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