TALLINN : The Prime Minister of Estonia, Andrus Ansip, resisted mounting pressure for his resignation, after his three-party coalition government collapsed. On Thursday Ansip announced that he was ejecting three ministers from the Social Democrat party from government, effectively turning his majority coalition into a minority administration that will need to win a fresh mandate from the Estonian parliament, or Riigikogu.
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves backed Ansip’s move but was highly critical of the manner in which government politics seemed to be taking precedence over the national interest in the small Baltic state of 1.3 million people. Ilves was among the first to express surprise that Ansip had not resigned.
By Friday, pressure was mounting on Ansip, though constitutional experts said the resignation of the prime minister upon the fall of a coalition was customary but not necessarily required.
The Social Democrat Party’s deputy chairman said Ansip would be a “coward” if he did not resign. Ansip has made no secret of his desire to bring the opposition People’s Union party into government in place of the Social Democrats, but also signaled that the remaining two parties of his coalition could form a minority government.
“In that case I would not resign,” Ansip said on Thursday night. His own Reform Party and its allied Pro Patria/Res Publica Union control 50 of the 101 seats in the Estonian parliament.
People’s Union chairman Karel Ruutli told the newspaper Eesti Päevaleht his party was debating the merits of allowing its 10 members of parliament to join the government.
“The party is having very big discussion. There are people who feel that the People’s Union coalition should join, and there are those who believe the opposite,” he said. After a decade-long boom, Estonia became the first country in the European Union to slip into recession in 2008.