Government to face no-confidence vote

  • 2009-02-11
  • By Matt Withers
TALLINN - Silver Pukk, the Reform Party's head of public relations, has confirmed that a no-confidence vote will accompany the government's package of budget cuts when it goes before parliament.
Key supporters of the budget cuts, including Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, previously said it was possible that a no-confidence vote would be included when the final bill was submitted before parliament 's but according to Pukk this is no longer a possibility but a reality.

When asked about the likelihood of the final bill encompassing a confidence vote, Pukk told The Baltic Times that "the possibility that you are referring to is no longer a possibility, but will most probably happen next Friday, Feb. 20, in Riigikogu [parliament]. The budget cuts will most probably be presented with a confidence vote."

At a press conference earlier this month, Ansip told local media that the government had not yet determined how to present the amended budget before parliament, but didn't rule out the possibility of a vote of no-confidence.
"The proposal of linking it with a [no] confidence vote is one that could be taken into consideration," he said.
Politicians from coalition parties have echoed these sentiments, expressing their support of presenting the package as a make or break deal.

"The Reform Party supports this idea. The bill would be passed, we are more than sure, because there is political consensus on the coalition side for it," Pukk said.
Similarly,  Reform Party MP Igor Grazin told TBT that the budget amendments benefit to free market capitalism will give the bill the support it needs.

"Have you seen a truly confident politician? Neither have I. But the package is reasonable and the best possible one, I think. Estonia is among the leading economies in the area and has a stable and sound economic foundation. Everything that works toward the market economy, or capitalism as it had been meant [to be], has a very good chance to get popular support," he said.
In the following week, a government representative will present Parliament with a report outlining the proposed budget cuts, which will then be followed by a round of questions and negotiations before voting takes place.

Yet despite the government's confidence in having the bill passed, many have expressed doubts about the package 's suggesting the coalition won't be expecting to see the bill passed unanimously.
Among those lodging skepticism is former Finance Minister and IRL MP Taavi Veskimagi, who said he is disappointed with the budget cuts and that the proscribed amendments fail to take into account the potentially long term nature of the current crisis.

Veskimagi said he had been pushing for cuts to take place ever since the initial budget draft, but not in the manner that has been decided upon in the current package.
"I had a very different approach to cutting the budget in mind than how things were actually done," Veskimagi said.

"The crisis that we have entered is a long term one, yet the measures offered are short term. Thus the approach offered is not an adequate response to the challenges that Estonia is faced with," he said.
Veskimagi said the government should also have made better use of the opportunity to reform Estonia's inefficient social programs. He criticized the government for not making a single change to the structure of the welfare system despite its encompassing almost half of the 2009 budget.

"Definitely what has been done is better than nothing at all. The first step has been made, but it is clearly too short considering the sustainability of the state's finances and the transition to euro," the former minister said.