Estonian minister wins no-confidence vote, then resigns
Estonian social affairs minister Maert Maripuu announced her intention to resign Thursday, minutes after she saw off a parliamentary vote of no confidence, dpa reported.
The no-confidence motion accused the minister of delaying reforms, misinforming the public and general incompetence but MPs backed her by 51 votes to 35.
Maripuu had been under increasing pressure since a much-vaunted IT system that was supposed to streamline pensions and benefits payments proved less than reliable, leaving some of the most vulnerable members of Estonian society without their entitlements for weeks and even months in some cases.
Estonia prides itself on its e-government capabilities and mastery of all things related to cyberspace, so the glitch-ridden computer system was seen as an embarassment as well as a major inconvenience.
"I will resign so the government can go on with important social reforms," Maripuu told parliamentarians in a statement.
She insisted that by the time she leaves office the social welfare IT system would be fully functional and that the reform had been necessary.
She also had harsh words for people who have been resistant to change from the old Soviet-style reliance on paperwork and queueing to the paper-free world of e-government.
"It is absolutely unfitting that in a country seeking world renown as an e-state, attempts have been made to block the transition to the payment of pensions via bank accounts, which is absolutely the norm in the Nordic countries," she said.
Maripuu's resignation came on the same day the Estonian press published details of a Eurobarometer survey showing Estonians trust their government much more than is the case in the other Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, despite the social security payments mess and an economy that has been in recession for months.
At 48 per cent, the Estonian government's trust rating remains well above the EU average of 34 per cent and three times higher than Latvia and Lithuania's figures.