New Party Holds First Congress, Will Run at 2015 Elections ({{commentsTotal}})

MP Andres Herkel Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The Estonian Free Party initiative group NGO voted on Saturday to morph into a political party and voted former IRL MP Andres Herkel as its first chairman.

The slogan of the new party, which will rival the Reform Party and IRL in ideology, is “We shall return the state to the people,” aiming to open up Parliament to smaller parties and other NGOs by lowering the threshold from 5 to 3 percent among other moves.

The party currently has 650 members, and can register as a political party due to new laws pushed through recently, which lowered the required number of members from 1,000 to 500. The party has ambitious plans for the March 1 parliamentary elections, hoping to win between 5 and 15 seats with 125 candidates.

Speaking about the name of the party, Herkel said the work “free” should give a signal that all are welcome to join politics, and can do so through them. He said Free Party candidates will not have to be party members.

The party's main points from the congress:

* decrease waste in state spending, increase efficiency
* increase the tax-free minimum for greater solidarity in society
* decrease political corruption, especially state funding of political parties
* open politics to more people
* broad-based changes in state administration and tax system

Besides Herkel, who received 162 votes, and opponent Alger Tammiste, who received 11, the party elected 10 board members.

Herkel, the main force behind the party, signaled his unhappiness with IRL and mainstream politics in Estonia last year, saying Estonian politics needs new air after most major parties were hit with large scandals.

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