TALLINN, Nov 9, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 09th Nov, 2016 ) - Estonia's centrist Prime Minister Taavi Roivas on Wednesday lost a confidence vote in parliament after five parties, including two former coalition partners, blasted him for a lack of leadership. A majority 63 lawmakers in the 101-seat parliament voted to remove Reform party leader Roivas, who has been in office since 2014, according to the ERR public broadcaster. The confidence vote was triggered after Roivas refused to resign despite his three-party coalition collapsing on Monday.
President Kersti Kaljulaid was to immediately begin consultations with party leaders on forming a new government. Tipped to lead that, the main opposition Centre party has vowed to keep Estonia solidly rooted in the eurozone and NATO as the Baltic state of 1.3 million people gears up to assume the EU's rotating presidency in the second half of 2017. The party chose a new leader, 38-year-old Juri Ratas, at the weekend, raising calls for him to take over as prime minister.
Commanding 27 seats, the Centre party is popular among the sizeable ethnic Russian minority who account for a quarter of Estonia's 1.3 million people. A respected deputy speaker of parliament, Ratas replaced Edgar Savisaar, 66, whose perceived ties to Russia had scared off potential coalition partners amid heightened tensions with Moscow. "Juri Ratas has today said nothing will change in Estonia's stance vis-a-vis NATO, the EU," Estonian political analyst Ahto Lobjakas told AFP on Wednesday.
"He would risk an immense public backlash were he to go back on these commitments. I have no reason to think him disingenuous," he added. Ratas is expected to launch coalition talks with the conservative IRL and SDE Social Democratic parties that had formed the outgoing coalition with Roivas's Reform party. Formed in April 2015, that coalition broke down after IRL and SDE leaders blamed Roivas, 37, for failing to push ahead with promised economic reforms, also accusing him of seeking a backroom political alliance with the popular Ratas. If talks succeed, the Centre-led coalition would command a 56-seat majority in parliament. Kaljulaid must designate a new prime minister within two weeks, after which the new leader will face a confidence vote that would signal the end of Roivas's tenure.