A government crisis began on Friday in Estonia, a small European country in the Baltic area. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, in office for about a year and a half and leader of the centrist Reformers party, requested and obtained from the president the removal of seven ministers of the Center Party, accusing him of having maintained various contacts with Russia even after the invasion of Ukraine.
“The security situation in Europe does not allow me to continue working together with the Center Party, which is unable to put Estonia’s interests above its own”, Kallas said. The Reformers and the Center Party had long been on bad terms, and according to several commentators the relationship with Russia is only one of the factors that led to the government crisis.
It is not clear what could happen in the next few days: the Reformers have announced that they will try to form a new government with two parties that are in opposition today, Isamaa, center-right, and the Social Democrats, center-left. The Center Party he described as incomprehensible Kallas’ decision but did not say whether or not he will try to form a government with the two parties furthest to the right of the parliamentary arc, Isamaa and the far right of EKRE, with whom he had already governed from 2019 to 2021.
The story began a few weeks ago, when the Center Party, with which the Reformers have governed together since 2021, presented a law in Parliament to substantially increase subsidies for families with dependent children. The Reformers opposed asking for a modest increase, citing the fact that the measure would cost around € 300 million a year in a period in which a € 878 million budget shift had just been approved (Estonia has a GDP of about 27 billion euros, against the 1,781 billion euros of Italy).
“For some time now the Center Party has behaved as if it were in the opposition, voting against the compromises envisaged by the government agreement and proposing very ambitious measures that would upset the budget”, commented on Twitter the Estonian columnist and writer Rein Raud. At the end of May, the leader of the Reformists in Parliament, Mart Võrklaev, He said that the Estonian government had become “essentially a minority government of the Reformers.”
It is unclear whether the Center Party behaved this way because it genuinely believes that the Kallas-led government is doing a bad job, or because it wants to bring down the Kallas government at all costs. The Reformers openly accuse the Center Party and its leader, Jüri Ratas, of promoting the interests of Russia, with which Estonia shares a border of about three hundred kilometers.
The Center Party has mostly centrist positions – in the European Parliament it sits with Renew’s liberal group – but a large part of its electorate is made up of Estonians of Russian ethnicity, and over the years it has often been accused of an excessively soft attitude towards the president’s Russia. Vladimir Putin. The Financial Times he points out that before the war he even had a formal collaboration relationship with United Russia, Putin’s party, which was canceled only after the invasion of Ukraine.
In recent weeks, Kallas has been one of the most intransigent European leaders towards Russia, and has repeatedly asked in Europe for greater aid to Ukraine and tougher sanctions against Russia. At the end of March you also published a tough article on the New York Times entitled “Putin cannot think of winning this war”, which was commented on a lot in the following days.
On the other hand, several other parties, especially EKRE, have instead taken softer positions towards Russia. In April, EKRE leader and former interior minister Mart Helme said without providing any evidence that Ukrainian refugees would bring HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – to Estonia because many Ukrainian women worked as prostitutes.
Kallas explained that at the moment his government remains in office for current affairs, pending the appointment of his successor. “Estonia needs a stable government that can deal with the huge challenges ahead,” he said on Friday.
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There is a government crisis in Estonia – Il Post
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