Estоnia’s Gоvernment Teeters оn Verge оf Cоllapse

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Prime Minister Taavi Roivas of in June in Brussels.

Julien Warnard/European Pressphoto Agency

Far from the sound and fury of Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States, Estonia’s government has, with little international attention, reached the brink of collapse.

Two of three parties governing the small Baltic nation of 1.3 million have broken off their coalition agreement — little more than a year after it was put in place — leaving Prime Minister Taavi Roivas exposed to a vote of no confidence in the country’s Parliament.

The coalition’s rupture and an impending leadership change could give an opening to the Center Party, the largest opposition party that has long had ties to President Vladimir V. Putin’s United Russia Party.

Russia’s seizure of Crimea and the detention of an Estonian security officer in 2014, compounded by Russia’s subsequent military buildup in the Baltic Sea region, has left many in Estonia, a member of both NATO and the , on edge.

“My initial reaction — Putin must be jumping for joy,” said Marcus Kolga, a Canadian-Estonian filmmaker and activist who advocates a tough line with Moscow. The “timing and nature of this is extremely alarming.”

Senior figures in Mr. Roivas’s center-right Reform Party, which now does not have enough seats left to govern on its own, acknowledge they will be discussing his resignation on Tuesday morning in a meeting before the vote, expected later in the day.

The immediate cause of the coalition’s split was a dispute over appointments of lawmakers to the boards of state companies. But it also occurred right after the downfall of a political boss, Edgar Savisaar, a former prime minister who lost his place last weekend as the leader of the Center Party after more than two decades.

“He was the last guy, the remnant of that first generation who led Estonia since the regaining of independence” from the Soviet Union, said Lauri Tankler, a journalist and political commentator, who was in the United States covering the American election for the Estonian public broadcaster ERR.

The Center Party’s links to Russia had put off potential partners, but without Mr. Savisaar, the smaller parties may see a chance to escape the orbit of the Reform Party, which has been a mainstay in every Estonian government since 1999. And Mr. Savisaar’s newly elected successor as chairman, Juri Ratas, in particular appears to strike a markedly less favorable tone toward Moscow, and without the baggage of corruption accusations that had weighed down Mr. Savisaar.

In a statement explaining their departure from the government, the center-left Social Democrats said the disagreements went far deeper than the board appointments. Mr. Roivas, according to the statement, lacked energy and “fresh ideas” on how to address problems like the rapid depopulation of the countryside, or keeping the nation’s health care system afloat and carrying out education reforms.

Mr. Roivas, who at 36 is Europe’s youngest prime minister, struck back in a televised appearance on Monday, accusing the Social Democratic Party and the right-wing IRL Party of duplicity. His partners had been telling him they wished the government to carry on, he said, while carrying out a “populist media attack.”

Even before the latest blowup, Parliament had failed for months to appoint a new president, finally settling last month on the first woman to hold the office, Kersti Kaljulaid.

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