Survey shows cabinet ministers less likely to resign

02.08.2012, 12:36

A survey made by Eesti Päevaleht shows that in the last decade, eleven cabinet ministers have resigned, including six from the Reform Party.

However, the timeline of resignations shows that while resignations were considered normal part of the political life in the early 2000s, ministers are now much less willing to step down.

The first cabinet minister to resign since 2000 was Signe Kivi as minister of culture (Reform Party) who stepped down after the ministry’s accountant found that Avo Viiol, head of the Cultural Endowment Fund, had stolen millions of kroons from the fund and spent them in casinos.

In 2003, Ain Seppik (Centre Party) stepped down as minister of the interior after the media wrote that Seppik had been a member of the panel that in 1985 had sentenced Estonian schoolboys for “insulting the Soviet regime.”

In 2003, Tõnis Palts (Res Publica) resigned as minister of finance after the tax board suspected Palts of tax evasion. He was cleared afterwards of tax evasion suspicion.

In 2004, Tiit Tammsaar, minister of agriculture (People’s Union) resigned after the Rakvere Grain Storage was found to be missing 13,000 tons of grain, the country’s security reserve, that had been secretly sold by the storage’s managers.

In the same year, Meelis Atonen (Reform Party) resigned as minister of economic affairs after he lost the battle over state subsidies paid to Saaremaa Shipping Company, a company controlled by the powerful local businessman Vjacheslav Leedo.

Also in 2004, Margus Hanson (Reform Party) resigned as minister of defence in connection of the theft of his briefcase that contained state secrets.

In 2005, another minister of defence, Jaak Jõerüüt (Reform Party) resigned after a prominent defence ministry official lost a memory stick with the names of 300,000 conscripts and reservists. Another reason for his resignation was the T-shirt worn in public by Indrek Tarand, the then employee of the defence ministry and current Europarliament member, with the text “Let’s burn the Commies.”

In 2005, minister of foreign affairs Kristiina Ojuland (Reform Party) lost her job after the national security agency KAPO published a report saying that state secrets have been repeatedly lost by the ministry of foreign affairs. Ojuland refused to resign, but prime minister Juhan Parts recalled her for loss of confidence.

Minister of environmental affairs Villu Reiljan (People’s Union) resigned in 2006 in connection with the land swapping scandal.

In 2005, minister of justice Ken-Marti Vaher (Res Publica) resigned after he proposed to establish numeric targets for catching corrupt officials. The scandal resulted in a vote of no confidence in the course of which PM Juhan Parts announced his resignation.

Most recent resignation was in 2009 when the minister of social affairs Maret Maripuu (Reform Party) supervised the development of an IT system that failed to ensure timely payment of social benefits to people with disabilities.