Since Reform Party is one of Estonia’s most secretive political parties that wants to show itself as a unified organization and hides its internal disputes at any cost, the debacle with Siim Kallas as candidate for PM must have been a very bitter pill, writes Postimees.
It was last autumn that Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and European Commission vice president Siim Kallas started to discuss the possibility of Kallas returning to the top of the Reform Party and into Estonian politics.
This was a plan that was known to a very small group of Reform Party leaders and included Kristen Michal who is claimed to have been the plan’s mastermind, and Rain Rosimannus who is allegedly the party’s eminence gris.
It was possibly also known to Taavi Rõivas, the vice chairman of the parliamentary faction Remo Holsmer and to MP Arto Aas. Andrus Ansip’s plan was to become the European Commissioner in the autumn 2014, with current Foreign Minister Urmas Paet becoming the PM and party chairman and Siim Kallas becoming an Europarliament member.
The next move would have been making Kallas becoming the next President of Estonia in 2016, the path that current President Toomas Hendrik Ilves took in 2006 by first becoming MEP and then winning presidential elections. The grand objective was to make sure that Reform Party stays on power also after 2015 general elections. The problem was that the party’s popularity had been plummeting recently, making it only the country’s third most popular party.
Kallas himself had a slightly different gameplan than Ansip: to become a PM and party chairman and to ensure that his daughter Kaja Kallas becomes MEP. Although Urmas Paet, Minister of Foreign Affairs, was often seen as possible successor for Ansip, he kept low profile in this power play and therefore lost to Kallas.
Ansip hoped that the switch with Kallas would take place not before autumn of 2014 when Kallas’ term as European Commissioner ends and Ansip replaces him in Brussels. However, Kallas started to rush things when he sent out a letter to Reform Party’s leading members on February 7 when Ansip was attending Sochi Olympics in which he announced that he was ready to become PM if Ansip steps down.
Ansip then had no option but to announce on February 23 that he was stepping down as PM. Reform Party started to negotiate with Social Democrats about the new coalition. IRL was visibly angered and was seeking revenge. Then, on 4 March, Eesti Päevaleht published the article about the USD 100m in guarantees that Kallas signed twenty years ago as governor of central bank. The rest is history, as we know.
It was obvious that Kallas could not handle the media pressure. In ten years behind safe doors in Brussels he had forgotten how to handle the media and felt insulted: he had come back in order to make Estonia more European, but he is being pestered by some documents dated twenty years ago that were never realized.
Ansip was visibly insulted by Kallas’ decision, especially since Kallas had not informed him ahead of others, and started to talk about his age and health risks. Another reason was probably that the leadership of Reform Party of people whom Kallas did not know and with whom he could not sit down, sip good wine or cognac and discuss life as friends.
The passionate politicians of 1990s had been replaced by professionals, young politicians in their 30ies whose only objective is to make sure that their political career continues in a safe and secure manner.