“Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has informed President Kersti Kaljulaid of his resignation,” the Estonian government said in a statement. According to Reuters, the Prime Minister has yet to formally announce his resignation at a cabinet meeting on Thursday and inform the parliament about it.
Shortly after meeting Ratas, Kaljulaid said she had commissioned Kaja Kallas, the leader of the Reform Party, the country’s largest opposition party, to form a new coalition government. She noted that although she had fourteen days to do so, she decided to act quickly because of the coronavirus crisis.
Estonian Prosecutor’s Office podle ERR News suspects five people and Ratas’s Estonian Central Party (EKK) of corruption over a loan of € 39 million (over one billion crowns) Estonia granted to Porto Franco last summer for a development project in the center of Tallinn, with the money earmarked for business support affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Information that the prosecutor’s office suspects the EKK in this case was published on Tuesday.
Ratas said today that he had done nothing wrong and had no information about the details of the loan under investigation, but decided to withdraw after a party meeting overnight. “There are certainly other ways to behave, but only this one seemed right,” he said. He noted that the suspicion of the prosecutor’s office does not mean that someone is certainly guilty. However, he admitted that the investigation “casts a serious shadow on all involved”.
The Estonian government has been led by Ratas since 2016. He remained at the helm of the country even after the elections in 2019, in which the currently opposition Reform Party has won. However, the Estonian Wednesday party then formed a coalition with the far-right Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) and the Conservative Homeland Party. The next regular parliamentary elections in Estonia are scheduled for March 2023.
The break-up of the current governing coalition is evidenced by the fact that the Estonian parliament has rejected a bill to hold a referendum on marriage as a union of exclusively men and women. Although 51 of the 101 legislators supported the draft in the first reading, today, according to the Delphi server, Ratas’s centrists abstained, even though they were among the initiators of the proposal for the controversial referendum. Thus, only 26 deputies from the far right and partly conservatives voted for the proposal, while 49 were mostly opposed by opposition legislators, but also supported by several deputies from the current coalition.
Ratas said the need for a plebiscite on the subject should be decided by the next government, TASS noted, adding that the opposition was initially prepared to block the scheduled referendum vote by submitting additional and corrective proposals prepared by the 9400.
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