When Reformierakond won two seats more in the Estonian parliament than its closest competitor and former coalition partner Keskerakond, the prevailing sense among the Keskid was that Reform would flirt with Isamaa-Res Publica Liit, then return to form the new election coalition with Keskerakond.
Unfortunately, for Keskerakond, that didn't happen. The major stumbling block to a coalition agreement with IRL -- the appointment of Mart Laar to the post of foreign minister, which was rejected by PM Andrus Ansip -- was set aside and the coalition was formed with the Social Democrats. Keskerakond went into opposition.
This morning I caught an interesting interview with Kadri Must on ETV, the head representative of Keskerakond and an Estonian MP. Keskerakond has been trying to woo/insult Eestimaa Rahvaliit and SDE into consultations, though SDE has made it clear that as long as Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar is leading Keskerakond, it will be unwilling to partner with that party.
This is a smart bluff from SDE. In reality, the kinds of voters that SDE is looking for are the same ones that attract Keskerakond's support. Savisaar is Kesk's most charismatic candidate. If Savisaar were out of the picture, presumably SDE's support would grow. And since he's unlikely to be out of the picture, well, SDE can just sit right where it is -- in the ruling coalition. They shouldn't rule out consultations though. With a dependable 10 percent of the electorate behind them, they very well could wind up being the party that is never out of power.
The idea of Savisaar remaining as mayor of Tallinn and a newer prime ministerial candidate being put forward by Keskerakond was evinced from Must during the interview. The ETV interviewer mentioned the fact that, by Estonian political standards at least, Savisaar is getting kind of old (He will be 61 in 2011, the year of the next parliamentary elections). He was also at the top of their list in 2003 and 2007, and didn't manage to win, even though polls indicated the odds were in the party's favor.
Must responded that the party leadership is certainly weighing putting someone younger forward in 2011, perhaps former Minister of Social Affairs Jaak Aab (pictured), or former Minister of the Interior Kalle Laanet. Both Aab and Laanet hail from the countryside -- Aab is from Helme Parish in Valgamaa, Laanet is from Saaremaa -- and they definitely carry less baggage than Savisaar. But it remains to be seen whether this idea is genuine or just morning television BS.
Another concept floated was that 2009 -- the year of European Parliamentary elections and municipal elections in Estonia -- will be a trying one for the ruling coalition because of their conflicting platforms. I have some suspicion that Keskerakond has already hatched a sinister plan to play the current coalition partners off one another and ride their way all the way back to Stenbock House. We'll see.