Bilingualism is one of the biggest problems in Tallinn, according to Mart Helme, chairman of the Conservative People's Party.
In an interview published by Eesti Päevaleht over the weekend, Helme described his proposed plan of action for Tallinn, which has a large Russian-speaking population.
"One of our slogans is 'restore Tallinn as an Estonian-speaking city.' We do not support hidden or public bilingualism in the Republic of Estonia. On this issue we differ clearly both from the Center Party and the Social Democrats, whose members, led by Ossinovski, have essentially proposed legalizing bilingualism. Our party believes that affairs in the capital of Estonia should be conducted in Estonian.“
He continued: "There is also a concrete idea: people who do not speak Estonian, mostly ethnic Russians of the older generation, can purchase the service from the translation bureau at the city government. Our taxpayers should not have to pay for bilingualism in written form on websites or in the form of bilingual officials. It is a person's own concern - if he is too lazy to learn Estonian or is here only for a short term and sees no reason to learn it, then purchase the service.“
Second to one
By a narrow margin, Helme is currently the second most popular mayoral candidate for Tallinn as the October municipal elections approach.
Incumbent Edgar Savisaar continues to dominate the polls, with 37 percent of respondents supporting him in the most recent Emor survey.
Helme was supported by 11 percent of respondents; Eerik-Niiles Kross of IRL by 10 percent; Vilja Savisaar-Toomast, Savisaar's ex-wife who recently switched from Center to the Reform Party, by 7 percent; and Andres Anvelt of the Social Democrats by 7 percent.
Another priority issue for Helme, if he were elected mayor, would be fixing the traffic system, he said. He said he wouldn't get rid of Tallinn's controversial, recently implemented free public transport policy, but he would abandon the city's current preferential treatment for public transport. "As a father of minors who takes his kids to school every morning, I can say that if you were to do this by public transport, you would spend your whole morning dropping off the kids.“
Another issue, Helme said, is bolstering security. MuPo, the municipal police service, could do a lot to advance this aim, Helme said. The controversial organization, which critics have vowed to shut down, should be given more authority and coordination with the police should be streamlined, Helme said. The traffic fines collected by MuPo, Helme noted, are a significant source of revenue to the city. He said though that he would change the agency's "bastardly“ name, to something like "city police“ (which could then be abbreviated as LiPo).
Helme has said that a single party is unlikely to win a sole majority in Tallinn's elections, but that a coalition could be successful in toppling the Center Party.
"One must remember that in Tallinn big politics are conducted with the left hand and municipal politics with the right. Problems have stacked up because of the the strong opposition between Toompea and Tallinn; that's the reason I believe that a large coalition could be a very good option for Tallinn.“