Center, Reform parties access government

  • 2004-02-05
  • By Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - Leaders of the Center Party and the Reform Party held a conference last week at which they analyzed the successes and failures of past governments and the chances of survival of the present one.

Although the centrists and reformists clearly have had varying profiles, they nevertheless were a part of the two-party coalition that took control of power in 2002 when the government of Mart Laar resigned and stuck together until the 2003 elections.
Edgar Savisaar, mayor of Tallinn and chairman of the Center Party, told the conference that the current coalition of the Reform Party, Res Publica and the People's Party would be less lucky.
The "new politics" proclaimed by Res Publica would not save Prime Minister Juhan Part's Cabinet from the regular challenges any government faces, Savisaar said.
"For 14 years every winter there was gossip in the corridors of Parliament that the coalition would collapse over the national budget issue, but it never happened. But in 2003 the chance of a coalition collapse was quite real," he said, referring to the budget dispute initiated by the People's Union that almost led to a break in the Cabinet.
Savisaar, however, admitted that the main points in the three-party coalition platform have passed the time of test, and that some innovations appear to be positive.
"The variety of issues discussed by the coalition council has been extended, and monitoring of the coalition's key politicians has been introduced," he said.
Rein Toomla, a political science expert from Tartu University, said that according to his improvised survey the current coalition could never exist. Toomla analyzed the articles of associations of the six largest parties and built a scale of compatibility according to which the best coalition partner for Res Publica would be the Moderates.
As a result, Toomla concluded the current coalition will likely collapse before its authority expires.
Siim Kallas, chair of the Reform Party and former prime minister, dismissed Toomla's ideas as too abstract.
"This is abstracting from reality. There are zillions of compromise combinations. Besides, nobody wins from a coalition collapse, and so every party prefers cooperation," said Kallas, who also attended the conference.
"Similar parties do not always get along very well because they are going for the same electorate," Kallas added.