Talks entering home stretch

Tuuli Koch
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Photo: Liis Treimann

While the desire of the partners of the new government, now tired of night sittings, to keep their soul and face remains a minor annoyance, the Center Party's promise to ensure voting discipline means the triumvirate will have an agreement by tomorrow evening, which it can then present to party councils on Saturday.

Heads of the Center Party, Pro Patria (IRL), and the Social Democrat Party (SDE), who have managed to put together the less than detailed agreement over the past two weeks, still have to go over the final details of the agreement and meet with the Free Party, that will not be joining the government, today. The latter circumstance has been confirmed by members of the Center Party and SDE.

The Free Party will surely be given an overview of the economic policy and taxes package, as well as a hearty handshake and a promise to consider the opposition member's good ideas in the Riigikogu.

MP Artur Talvik, who has been one of the negotiators on the Free Party's side, said he will wait for what today and tomorrow brings. “We have spoken our peace; now we will wait for concrete answers,” he said last night.

The coalition, that visited President Kersti Kaljulaid at 10 p.m. yesterday and will probably sign the coalition agreement on Monday, will still be grappling with tax issues this morning. Tax hikes remain the biggest source of tensions: IRL is against the former, while the centrists and SDE are in favor.

The sides will come to ministerial positions and those of Riigikogu committee chairmen tomorrow. IRL has supposedly said that the Center Party should not get the foreign and defense portfolios. While earlier rumors suggested talk of Jüri Luik as the next foreign minister, recent developments no longer support that hypothesis as available positions are in short supply as it is.

There is also reluctance to give the prime minister's party the justice or interior portfolios, considering the ongoing trial of former Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar, who is busy putting together a list for the 2017 local elections at his Hundisilma farm.

The people will not see the exact same ministers in the new government. While the number of portfolios – 15 – will probably remain unchanged, ministerial titles will be altered. Some will be abolished, some created, and some renamed. For example, it is possible Estonia will get a special minister for its looming EU presidency, while the title of rural affairs minister will probably be complemented with the word “agriculture”.