August 30, 2019 / 12:20 PM / 20 days ago

Estonian PM survives no-confidence vote

FILE PHOTO: Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas leaves after a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street in London, Britain, August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

TALLINN (Reuters) - Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Friday called by the opposition after a minister from his junior coalition partner, the far-right EKRE party, tried to fire the head of the police force.

Ratas, whose three-party coalition has held power for just four months, was supported by 55 lawmakers, compared with 40 who voted against him. The motion had been expected to fail as the government has 56 seats in the 101-seat parliament.

The vote was called by the Reform party, the biggest opposition group, after Finance Minister Martin Helme of EKRE tried to fire Estonia’s top policeman over a row about funding.

Despite the row, Ratas said he still had confidence in all his ministers.

“We have had a number of tough moments between coalition partners, but I assume all governments have had them,” he said.

The Reform Party won the March elections, but was left out of the cabinet when Ratas’ Center cut a deal with EKRE and the conservative Fatherland to form the coalition.

Reform leader Kaja Kallas accused Ratas of being unable to control his government.

“After the new government took over, the prime minister has 14 times had to condemn the acts of its coalition partner, to apologize for them, or to explain that their words are not true, or are not the government’s position,” she said.

Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Simon Johnson and Hugh Lawson

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