Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Another domino?

It looks like one more country could reject the EU constitution and end up isolated in Europe.

After the collapse of the Estonian government on 24 March following a vote of no confidence, the country's parliament today approved a three-party coalition to take over, the 12th government since regaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The move was approved by 53-40 votes, followed by formal approval by president Arnold Ruutel. The cabinet will be led by prime minister-designate Andrus Ansip of the Reform Party. He is in alliance with the rural-based People's Union Party and the left-leaning Centre Party, holding 52 of the 101 seats, giving the new government a decided Eurosceptic flavour.

One of Ansip's first moves has been to pledge a referendum on changes needed to the Estonian constitution to bring in the EU constitution. Although the December Eurobarometer survey put 32 percent in favour of the constitution with 11 percent opposed and 56 percent in the "don't know" camp, the expectations are that public sentiment will quickly rally behind the new leader and reject the necessary changes.

No date has been set for the referendum.

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