TALLINN - The Estonian Center Party has promised to respond on Friday to a invitation of the election-winning Reform Party to start talks with a view to forming a government coalition.
Reform announced on Wednesday that it has chosen Center as its potential partner in the coalition government. The chairman of Center, Juri Ratas, then said that the board of the party will discuss the matter on Friday.
Ratas said on the "Esimene stuudio" ("First Studio") show of public ETV television on Thursday night that Center is not going to back down on their main pre-election promises in the coalition talks.
"I am prepared to stand for these matters also in the opposition and will not seek to be part of the coalition at any price," Ratas said.
The outgoing head of government said letting go of the post of prime minister was not painful to him.
"This is neither personal nor painful, it's about the voters who gave their vote for the Center Party. What it boils down to is whether we can agree about our principles with the Reform Party," he said.
I that context, Ratas reiterated the key points of the Center Party's pre-election platform: pension rise, preservation of the changes in the tax system favoring lower income earners, and Estonian-language school education.
In addition, Ratas said that Center remembers that the Reform Party has switched its coalition partners.
Reform won Sunday's general elections in Estonia, gaining 34 seats in the 101-seat Riigikogu. Center finished second with 26 seats and EKRE third with 19. The two smaller parties in the new five-party Riigikogu are Isamaa with 12 seats and SDE with 10 seats.