Estonia's Reform Party starts coalition government talks
HELSINKI (AP) — Estonia's center-right Reform Party started talks with two smaller parties Wednesday about forming a new liberal-minded coalition government.
The party of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas won the Baltic nation's general election on Sunday with 31.2% of the vote.
Kallas hosted a meeting of delegates from the Reform Party, the centrist Estonia 200 party and the left-leaning Social Democratic Party at Stenbock House, where the Estonian prime minister's office is located.
“We want to reach an agreement that will improve the lives of all people in Estonia,” Kallas said. “The Reform Party’s priorities are to firmly protect Estonia in the coming years, improve the livelihood of Estonian people and launch economic growth based on the green reform.”
The Reform Party was the senior partner in the outgoing three-party government. Although it won nearly twice as many votes Sunday as the election's runner-up, the far-right populist ERKE party, Kallas needs junior partners to form a Cabinet that can govern with a comfortable majority for the next four years.
The emergence of parliament newcomer Estonia 200, a centrist party advocating liberal values, was the biggest surprise of the election. It won 13.3% of the vote and 14 seats in Estonia’s 101-seat parliament, or Riigikogu. The Reform Party won 37 seats and the Social Democrats nine seats.
Estonia 200, which defines itself as “progressive and forward-looking political party,” failed to exceed the 5% threshold needed to enter the Riigikogu in 2019. This time around, the party gathered an array of well-known Estonian cultural figures, academics, business people and politicians as candidates.
National security in the wake of neighboring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and socio-economic issues, particularly the rising cost of living, were the main campaign themes of the election.
EKRE which runs largely on an anti-immigration and anti-EU platform, was part of Estonia’s government in 2019-21.
Jari Tanner, The Associated Press