Center invites Social Democrats to Tallinn coalition negotiations

The Center Party’s Tallinn council discussed the post-election situation in the capital city on Thursday and decided to make a proposal to the Social Democratic Party (SDE) to begin negotiations for a coalition city government.

Tallinn mayor and Center Party’s Tallinn council chairman Mihhail Kõlvart said the party wants to create a strong coalition, which would ensure the continuing development and capable city government, in the capital.

“We are facing multiple challenges, the most important of which are managing the coronavirus crisis and helping people. We do not wish to spend any time on political tricks and power games, but instead want to ensure stable city leadership, which the residents deserve and await,” Kõlvart said.

The mayor added that there were multiple options being discussed for a potential coalition, but the council’s decision was to make a proposal to the Social Democrats, who Center has the most in common with.

Center won 45.2 percent of the votes and 38 seats of the 79-member city council. Reform won 15 council seats, EKRE won eight, Eesti 200 won seven seats, the Social Democratic Party won six and Isamaa five seats.

“We consider social responsibility to the people of the capital to be most important, along with assisting the elderly and people hit hard by the crisis. We can also count on their support for the development of important projects, such as Tallinn Hospital,” the mayor noted.

Kõlvart also pointed out that SDE did not look to divide different nationalities, districts or groups in the capital during the local government elections last week. “There are people in the city council that understand the opportunity ahead, but also our responsibility to the people of Tallinn,” the mayor said.

Center chairman Jüri Ratas told ERR that the party chose the Social Democrats because of the similarities in their election platforms. “We have more in common with the Social Democrats, that was our assessment and sense,” the Riigikogu speaker said.

Ratas said negotiations should not be rushed and that they should be substantive. Kõlvart will lead the negotiation process for Center.

After news broke of Center’s decision, SDE chairman Indrek Saar and party Tallinn mayoral candidate Raimond Kaljulaid made a joint statement, in which they said the party will likely discuss the proposal at a meeting on Friday evening.

“The Center Party has made a proposal to the Social Democratic Party to initiate coalition negotiations in Tallinn. Center’s proposal is significant and substantive. As of the Social Democratic Party statutes, a decision to form a power union in Tallinn will be decided at a regional and party leadership level. The matter will be discussed at a party sitting,” the statement reads.

Kaljulaid told ERR that SDE will have a constructive meeting to discuss Center’s proposal and that it is a significant decision. “We must first make the decision – do we even go to the negotiations? Everything else will come after,” Kaljulaid said.

This is the first time in four election cycles that Center has not taken at least 40 seats, or the absolute majority and will now need to create a coalition to take power.

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