Estonia's pro-West coalition collapses amid infighting

The Estonian government has collapsed after its junior coalition partners ended their cooperation with the Prime Minister

Estonia's pro-West coalition collapses amid infighting

World Bulletin / News Desk

Estonia's three-party coalition government collapsed on Monday as its two junior partners ended their cooperation with pro-NATO Prime Minister Taavi Roivas amid infighting over his leadership.

"For the Social Democrats SDE and conservative IRL party the cooperation with the Reform party in this government has finished," Heidi Ojamaa, SDE spokeswoman told AFP.

In April 2015, Roivas's centre-right Reform party forged a coalition with the leftist Social Democrats and conservative IRL to command 59 seats in the 101-member parliament.

Warning that Estonia was "moving towards a left-wing coalition and that is dangerous," Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur, the Reform Party chairman, told Estonian public TV late Monday that the party board would meet early Tuesday to discuss Riovas's resignation.

"The government has now collapsed, with the SDE and IRL both officially pursuing new coalition talks with the (opposition) Centre party as of tonight," Estonian political analyst Ahto Lobjakas told AFP Monday.

Commanding 27 seats, the Centre party is Estonia's second largest political party and is popular among the small Baltic state's sizeable ethnic Russian minority. 

The party chose a new leader, 38-year-old Juri Ratas, at the weekend, raising calls for him to take over as prime minister. 

He replaced Edgar Savisaar, 66, who stepped down after party infighting. 

The former prime minister was seen as having close links with Moscow, making his party popular among ethnic Russians, who account for a quarter of Estonia's 1.3 million. 

But the ties had also scared off potential coalition partners.

According to Lobjakas, "Ratas's election as Centre's chairman opened the floodgates" for it forming a government.

If the talks between the Social Democrats and conservative IRL and the Centre party are "successful, this would signal a huge shift domestically, as Reform hasn't been out of government since 2001," he added. 

Lobjakas however insisted that should Ratas become prime minister, he would "stick to current foreign policy" meaning Estonia would remain firmly rooted in NATO, the EU and the eurozone.

 

Last Mod: 07 Kasım 2016, 23:17
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