The Estonian Reform Party and Social Democratic Party (SDP) agreed on Monday during the ongoing government coalition talks that the Reform Party will get 8 and SDP 6 seats in the new government while the regional minister's post will be abolished and two ministerial seats will be created in both the social ministry and economy and communications ministry, LETA/Postimees Online reports.
In the new government, the Reform Party will have the posts of prime minister, foreign minister, interior minister, finance minister, health and labour minister, environment minister, foreign trade and entrepreneurship minister and culture minister. Social Democrats will have the posts of defence minister, social welfare minister, economy and infrastructure minister, education and science minister, agriculture minister and justice minister as well as Riigikogu speaker's position.
As compared to the previous government coalition of Reform Party and Pro Patria and Res Publica Party (Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit – IRL), the Reform Party preserves the seats of prime, foreign, finance, environment and culture ministers. So far the party also had the social minister's seat but in the new government it will get just a part of that, i.e. health and labour minister's portfolio. In addition it will take interior minister's and foreign trade and entrepreneurship minister's positions while giving to the partner the portfolio of justice minister.
The Reform Party board discusses appointing the ministerial candidates in the second half of this week or the beginning of the next. SDPs candidates should be appointed in the next few days.
Reform Party prime ministerial candidate Taavi Rõivas told the press after the coalition talks that the parties wish to make state governance more dynamic at the example of Finland and enable ministers to govern areas that might not coincide strictly with the boundaries of ministries. "We won't change the number of ministries but now and in the future the governments will be able to appoint ministers with equal rights according to what the priorities of the governments are," he said.
Rõivas said that the priorities of the Reform Party and SDP are connected to social and economic issues and thus two ministers are planned to lead both ministries.
The economy and infrastructure minister will work on transport, domestic market, energy and communications and foreign trade and entrepreneurship minister with economic development and foreign trade spheres. Health and labour minister will work on healthcare and labour market while the social welfare minister will take care of family policy, pensions, welfare and equal rights issues.
SDE's chairman Sven Mikser explained that the new government structure was discussed already with Siim Kallas, when he was Reform Party's prime ministerial candidate. They agreed that Estonia's governance model and government structure is too rigid and in EU's context, the administrative spheres of some ministries are too wide.
"This doesn’t mean that we would like to create more bureaucracy, make governance more expensive, on the contrary, our coalition agreement prescribes cutting governance costs quite considerably," said Mikser.
Till the corresponding changes are made in the government law, the economy and communications minister's and social minister's portfolios go to SDP and Reform Party's ministers will be appointed to the same ministries as ministers without a portfolio.
Mikser said that he will most likely have the defence minister's portfolio in the new government. He was a defence minister also in 2002-2003.
Reform Party and SDP will sign their coalition agreement on Thursday. Rõivas is likely to deliver his report on formation of the government to the parliament on Monday and after the parliament supports his candidature, will have to submit the new government to the president in 7 days. The president has 3 days to appoint the new government.
Columnist Janek Mäggi writes in Äripäev that, as the new candidate for Prime Minister, Taavi Rõivas is like a fresh, but chill wind.
The following are abstracts from Mäggi’s column published in today’s Äripäev.
Everybody was demanding changes in the society, but few imagined that they would be so big. Whether we like it or not, but we have to accept the new political reality.
Taavi Rõivas is not the first Estonian Prime Minister who has become PM in between elections because there have been Tiit Vähi, Andres Tarand, Mart Siimann, Siim Kallas and Andrus Ansip.
What is different, however, that Rõivas is probably the first one in Estonia who has become PM overnight, perhaps unexpectedly even to himself.
Fortunately for Rõivas, he did not get to be a candidate for PM for six months, like Urmas Paet, which is ample time for his fellow party members and media to shoot his candidacy full of holes. Rõivas is no wunderkind because back in 1992 Mart Laar was a few years younger than him and in 2003 Juhan Parts was a few year older than him.
But it nevertheless heralds a new era in Estonian politics: arrival of young players on the scene, finally. So the joint press conference of Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Taavi Rõivas and Sven Mikser was like a wake-up call to those politicians in their 50s and 60s that they time is over.
Even President Ilves himself said at the same press conference that he feels old as he was sitting next to Taavi Rõivas who is twice younger than him. There will also be new types of relations. The Rõivas-Mikser alliance will bring along new social relations. These are people who do reminiscence of old times behind a glass of whiskey or cognac and do not .. which of them could become President or European Commissioner.
They want to lead Estonia and do things for another twenty years. One change is that those in their 20s will have many attractive jobs opening up shortly. I believe that the new coalition could remain on power for long provided that they can collect more than half of the votes in the next general elections.
This would be disaster for IRL because they would then share the fate of their arch-enemy, Centre Party. Namely, being popular, but without actual power. There is no doubt that IRL is prepared to go to any lengths to avoid this happening. The difference between the previous coalition and the new one is that the new one represents both types of voters, namely those who elect right-wing parties and those who elect left-wing or centrist parties.
The problem with the Reform Party-IRL coalition was that they both represented the first Estonia, while the second, ie voters of Social Demcorats and Centre Party, was left crying alone while the government rode a bulldozer over them. Now also the second Estonia is raising to power and all its citizens are represented, so to speak.
From day one, the new government will have its hands full. The European Parliament elections on May 25 will show what the people think about new reality. Will parties send Jüri Ratas, Kaja Kallas and Urmas Paet to Europe because they have become too dangerous? Does Indrek Tarand have a possibility once both Ansip and Kallas are out of the picture? How about former minister of IRL – are they eligible for Brussels.
Centre Party chairman Edgar Savisaar is confident that the next government will be formed by Centre Party. Actually, if the do it with IRL, it would be same left-right combination as with the new coalition. The only thing they need is to get one more MP than Social Democrats and Reform, otherwise they would be looking at 5 to 10 years without power.
And, of course, one should not undermine the objective of Social Democrats to become PM. Sven Mikser said that he would resign as party chairman if Social Democrats do not form the government in 2015. The new coalition may help to do that, although also being in the government could already save his face. At any rate, the Siim Kallas debacle offered an exciting political play which is peaking with Europarliament elections in May and the second act ends with general elections next year.