Estonia's ruling Reform Party ponders coalition partners

  • 2007-03-07
  • By TBT staff

MAKING FRIENDS: After a surprise win in Estonian elections, Prime Minister Ansip looks to form a new coalition.

TALINN 's The center-right Reform Party, winner of Estonia's parliamentary elections over the weekend, decided after discussing the results of preliminary consultations to continue bilateral coalition-building talks with the right-wing Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, the Greens and the center-left Social Democratic Party.

Reform's first preference for coalition partner would be the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, which have similar policy agendas. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, leader of the Reform Party, told reporters after a meeting of the party board that leftist forces would also have to be included in the alliance.

Ansip said the future coalition needs to have a broad-base in order to survive the full four-year term of office. He therefore voiced the hope that further consultations with the Social Democrats will lead to formal coalition talks and the eventual signing of a coalition agreement.

Ansip did not rule out continuing the alliance with Reform's current partner, the left-leaning Center Party. He said there is more clarity regarding Center, after two years' cooperation in government it is well known what unites and what separates the two.

He cited Center's promise of a wage reform as the main bone of contention, saying a coalition of the two were possible only if Center agreed that wages would rise at the same pace as productivity. "If we fail to come to an agreement [on this issue] a coalition with the Center Party will be totally ruled out for us," Ansip said.

According to Ansip, the Reform Party's biggest differences with the Social Democrats and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union are in questions about taxation. Ansop also added, however, that they would not be looking to for a coalition if they did not think it possible to overcome these issues.

The Reformist leader said the Tuesday's meeting with Green party delegations turned out pleasant and promising. Nevertheless, he said that thorough consultations are necessary as little is yet known about the new party, as they lack previous parliament and government experience.

According to Ansip, all combinations of parties to form a coalition are possible at this point and thus the possibility that both the Greens and the SDP will be invited to join the new government cannot be ruled out. Should Reform Party, Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, Greens and Social Democrats all agree to form a coalition, they would command 66 seats in the 101-member parliament.

The Reform Party is in daily ongoing consultations with the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, the Social Democrats and the Greens. Ansip said the meetings will focus on establishing common ground. If the parties are able to answer key questions and it can be concluded that an agreement among the parties is possible, then the talks will continue on the multilateral level.
Ansip reiterated today Reform's wish to wind up coalition talks and have an agreement in place before the new parliament convenes.