Estonian party start talks with populists despite promise

HELSINKI (AP) — A senior Estonian politician has resigned from the Center Party’s leadership to protest a decision to start government formation talks with a euroskeptic populist party that made big gains in last week’s general election — despite promises not to talk with them.

Raimond Kaljulaid said Tuesday the Center Party and the nationalist, anti-immigration Estonian Conservative People’s Party, EKRE, have different values and called its economic program “absurd.”

EKRE came in third in the March 3 election with 17.8 percent of votes.

Caretaker Prime Minister Juri Ratas’ Center Party turned to EKRE on Monday after refusing formation talks with the center-right Reform Party.

In the election, the Reform Party became Estonia’s largest party but failed to win a majority while the Centrists were runner-ups. Both had excluded cooperation with EKRE.

BAssociated Press