Opinion: Government of Jüri Ratas will last for long time yet
Announcements that the coalition of Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) is about to fall apart have been around since it took over in April, updated monthly by various pundits who will doubtlessly continue down the same road, writes editor-in-chief of ERR's radio news, Indrek Kiisler. But contrary to doomsayers' predictions, this government is bound to be around for a good while longer.
Jüri Ratas has successfully created an image of himself as a brilliant politician, and simultaneously also as a teddybear-like man of the people, ready to demonstrate his good will at any time, pat people on the back, look for common ground—and even sacrifice himself where needed.
Meanwhile the reality is different: while he may not be a cynical wolf in sheep's clothing or otherwise an evil genius, he is a soberly calculating party leader who naturally is also drawn to power. A bit like we all are, somewhere deep down.
Within the party, he is backed by members who are well-trained in that they've learned to be patient and tolerant in the years and years of Edgar Savisaar's machinations.
Looking at Ratas' own biography, we see that he tried already in 2011 to become the leader of the Centre Party. If the party-internal witch hunt that followed, the insults and the isolation he had to endure doesn't count as an exercise in political tolerance, what does?
Ratas knows that sometimes years will pass before the opportunity finally comes to demonstrate that this sort of thing really doesn't wear him down.
As leader of the Centre Party, he knows there is no point worrying about party ratings until the 2021 local elections are around the corner. So let the Reform Party's support be 40 percent. Budget discussions are promising to be relatively easy, with the worsening state of the global economy helping along where cuts need to be justified and growth expectations kept low.
And Ratas in fact doesn't need to worry about Centre's core voters, either. In Tallinn, Mihhail Kõlvart has already demonstrated that he is an able mayor and will likely have no issues in 2021 to get the best election result in the capital, and likely also the majority of votes.
Yes, the Russian votes are down right now, but the complacency, indifference, and laziness of the Social Democratic Party and Estonia 200 leaves those votes right where they are, ready to be picked up again by Centre before the next elections. And on top of that, the other parties demand Estonian-language kindergartens and schools, which precludes them from trying to go after them themselves.
All this means that Jüri Ratas' government will continue to last for a good long while. Its critics, meanwhile, can take it as some consolation that if EKRE weren't part of the coalition, that party's ratings would likely be 30 percent, if not higher. They should keep that in mind: they might have to thank the prime minister for it one day.
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Editor: Dario Cavegn