Veskimagi's new seat irks colleagues

  • 2005-06-15
  • By Ksenia Repson
TALLIN - Parliament voted this week to fill the position of deputy parliamentary speaker, left open by the departure of Andres Lipstok, with former Finance Minister and Res Publica chief Taavi Veskimagi.

Though Veskimagi will only be second deputy speaker, his election stuck in the craw of many MPs. The parliamentarians complained that, with Veskimagi sitting alongside fellow party member and current speaker Ene Ergma, it would tip legislature's balance of power.

Fifty MPs voted for Centrist Toomas Varek, who previously was deputy speaker, while Veskimagi received 28 votes, mainly all from Res Publica MPs.

The right-wing Pro Partia refused to take part in the ballot, saying that if fellow oppositionists from Res Publica were to receive two-thirds of Parliament's main positions, it would ruin the state's democratic principles.

Margus Tsahkna, public relations director of Pro Patria, said that one ruling seat usually represents the opposition, and that Veskimagi would only look after his party's interests.

Siim Mannik, head of the Res Publica press department, quoted Veskimagi saying that, as a rule, the opposition tries to get as many positions as possible, and the former finance minister - known for his tough fiscal conservatism - did not see any reason to consolidate power.

The ruling Reformists and opposition Social Democrats criticized Res Publica's behavior. Meelis Atonen said that numerical superiority in the ruling positions does not correspond to the number of Riigikogu members that belong to Res Publica.