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Estonian Far-Right Party in Talks to Join Government

EKRE’s strong performance in recent elections reflects public frustration with mainstream parties.

12 March 2019

Estonia’s far-right Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), boosted by a strong showing in this month’s elections, has joined talks on forming a new government.

 

The party said yesterday it would start talks with the current governing Center Party and the conservatives of Isamaa.

 

Center, whose base is the large Russian-speaking minority, last week rejected a deal with the center-right Reform Party, the surprise winner of the elections, public broadcaster ERR reports.

 

Center came second, ahead of EKRE and Isamaa, and has reached out to both parties in an effort to cobble together a coalition. Both Center and Reform earlier pledged not to work with the anti-immigrant, euro-skeptic EKRE, according to Bloomberg.

 

Prime Minister and Center leader Juri Ratas said the coalition-building talks would be difficult.

 

EKRE more than doubled its votes from the last election, winning 19 seats in the 101-member parliament.

 

Center’s overture to the far right carries echoes of developments across Europe, Martin Molder of Tartu University’s Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies told Bloomberg.

 

“It does fit with the picture across Europe of rising nationalist forces and a decline in support for Social Democrats. … How Center resolves its internal tensions will be the key in these talks as many of its leaders and voters aren’t very happy with the decision,” he said.

 

 

  • EKRE campaigned on promises to slash taxes, as well as promoting anti-immigration messages, the Guardian wrote.

 

  • Center’s talks with Reform broke down over its disagreement with some of Reform’s key policies, including a 500-euro tax-free threshold for monthly earnings, ERR says. A coalition would probably also depend on Ratas’s stepping down in favor of Reform leader Kaja Kallas.
Compiled by Ky Krauthamer
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