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Estonia's pro-West coalition threatened with collapse amid infighting

Junior coalition partners in Estonia have called on the prime minister to resign. The opposition parties have called for a no confidence vote.

Estonia's coalition was on the verge of collapse Monday after the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Pro-Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) called on Prime Minister Taavi Roivas to resign amid coalition in-fighting.

"The Estonian state leadership needs new energy and fresh ideas," said SDE chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski in a statement Monday. Estonian public broadcaster ERR reported that Ossinovski blamed disputes on economic, social, education and regional policy for causing the breakup with the Roivas' Reform Party (RE).

Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur, who also serves as RE chairman, told Estonian public TV on Monday that Estonia was "moving towards a left-wing coalition and that is dangerous," and would meet early Tuesday to discuss Roivas' resignation. Opposition parties have called for a no confidence vote, which should take place on Wednesday, pending Roivas' potential resignation.

Estland Juri Ratas (Getty Images/AFP/R. Pajula)

Center Party leader Juri Ratas may become the new Estonian Prime Minister

New Partner: Center Party

Currently, Roivas' center-right RE, along with the SDE and IRL control 59 of the 101 seats in Estonian parliament after the 2015 election. The SDE and IRL are purusing coalition talks with the Center Party, the main opposition and second-largest party in Estonia. The Center Party commands 27 seats and is particularly popular with the Baltic state's ethnic Russian minority which makes up a quarter of the population.

The Center Party selected Juri Ratas on Saturday, replacing Edgar Savisaar amid party infighting. Savisaar's perceived ties to Russia scared off potential coalition partners, but Ratas' selection "opened the floodgates” for the Center Party to form a new government, according to Estonian political analyst Ahto Lobjakas, who said the government has already collapsed.

Roivas is pro-NATO, and NATO leaders endorsed plans in July to rotate troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland should Russia attempt an intervention similar to the one in Ukraine in 2014. Russia has since increased its military presence in the Baltic Sea that touches the forementioned nations.

kbd/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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