Estonian government collapses; economic issues were key

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) " Estonia's government collapsed Wednesday after Prime Minister Taavi Roivas lost a confidence vote in Parliament, following months of Cabinet squabbling mainly over economic policies.

Lawmakers in the 101-seat Parliament on Wednesday ousted Roivas in a 63-28 vote, with 10 members abstaining or absent.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid has summoned the heads of the six parliamentary parties for talks later Wednesday. She will have 14 days to nominate a prime minister after Roivas' Cabinet has formally resigned.

Roivas' government was formed in April 2015 after his Reform Party won the parliamentary elections. But its work has been hampered by serious policy differences between the party and its coalition partners " the left-leaning Social Democrats and conservative IRL Party.

Conflicting views over taxation and improving the state of Estonia's economy, which the two junior coalition partners claim is stagnant, is the main cause for the breakup.

But political observers in the country of 1.3 million say the other parties have also grown tired of the long reign and style of the center-right Reform Party, which has led governments since 2005 and was part of every coalition for the past 17 years.

The crisis escalated earlier this week as the Social Democrats and IRL urged Roivas " at 37 one of Europe's youngest heads of government " to resign, saying they had lost trust in his leadership and Reform's economic policies.

The core of those policies is a flat 20 percent tax on income. The Social Democrats say the wide income gaps separating Estonia's different social groups would best be narrowed by introducing Nordic-style progressive taxation.

The two parties said Wednesday that they will immediately start talks on forming a coalition with the Center Party, Estonia's second-largest party, which is favored by the country's sizable ethnic-Russian majority and supports a progressive income tax.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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