One glaringly not needed

Tuuli Koch
, reporter
Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: Mihkel Maripuu

On this tenth day of power babble, chief talker Taavi Rõivas (Reform) said the weighty decisions start today – on the afternoon of which he leaves for Brussels for a couple of days.

In charge of the negotiations will be Reform vice-chair Keit Pentus-Rosimannus or Jürgen Ligi. At the press conference yesterday, obviously a pain for all, the party leaders sought to present a nice facade.  

Still, the top soc dem Sven Mikser tried not to hide his feelings – the thing is beyond comical – while his words were few. «Having mapped the standpoints, we will hoist sail and hit the sea. Arrival at promised land happening? Too early to tell,» he noted.

Tax rise ruled out

Also, talks and phone calls are currently happening between Centre, IRL and Soc Dems – for the three of them, 56 Riigikogu seats are on offer. On top of that, after the initial after-elections days, Centre and Reform are talking as well. Thus, the up-to-now fruitless talks have been multi-faceted indeed.

The most candid about doubts regarding a coalition of four have been the Free – still standing like a rock for democracy package and state reform. The meaning, essence and need for the latter, as suggested by Free Party, Reform is at loss to understand. Reform squirrels are especially put off by the desire of the Free to raise income tax to 28 percent. Yes, this the Free see as a long-term lifebuoy, but for Reform such tax rise is out of the question.

But in this very issue of democracy package and financing of the parties, the Free sees a chance to beat its main rivals IRL and Soc Dems. After the mammoth campaign of IRL and the not-too-lean one by Soc Dems, cutting the state financing would be hard for them to swallow – being in debts.

While other parties spent a million and some near two million for campaigning, the Free limited themselves to €100,000 and would be better off if state money percentage should shrink by half.

While they used to get nothing, half the sum would still be a couple of hundred euros a year. The last news is that Reform isn’t against asking the state for less money either: somewhere, some compromise must be found with the «eight-mandate-partner».

As told journalists yesterday by Taavi Rõivas, the first half of today would see final priorities discussed. Thereafter, they draw the initial breath to see what they could agree about. As admitted by Mr Rõivas, they go «one step at a time» and the negotiations are «far from easy and relatively intense».  

Financing cut not discussed

The Free chief Andres Herkel said they have discussed rights of deputies splitting from Riigikogu factions, open lists and linking a Riigikogu mandate to local one. At that, the alternative of new mandate nullifying former was also weighed. Cutting the financing of parties by state was not talked about, yesterday.

That would be a broad subject – rate of financing, setting a ceiling on campaign spending etc. «On no hard issue there have been any agreements thus far. Culmination begins tomorrow (today – edit),» said Mr Herkel.

Ansip would offer more top partners

Former prime minister and current European Commissioner Andrus Ansip thinks continuing with three would be the convenient way, but partners need to be offered more.

What do you see glancing from the side?

Not for me to give council, but I did try an alliance with four parties once. The principles are indeed too different. I think a coalition needs to be made with the vital but convincing majority.

How could they go on keeping the four trustingly around the table?

As prime ministerial party, we tried to make the best offers to our very partners. In vital posts and programmes, we tried to offer more than their seats would have dictated. This, in my opinion, is more successful than just talking from the position of strength. The idea is: the other party cannot outdo the better offer.

By the other party you mean Centre?

Yes. But it may always happen that for the sake of convenience the talks continue with three participants. Most importantly, though: in a coalition government, decisions are taken on basis of consensus. No more voting, then.