IRL Chairman Margus Tsahkna said disproportionate criticism towards his party shows the party is still necessary for Estonia.
In an end-of-the-year-interview with ERR, Tsahkna said the party must divert attention away from the past towards the future of open national conservatism.
Looking back at 2015, Tsahkna said it has been a hard year for the party. The party lost nine seats in Parliament. “But we have a pro-Estonian government, which is not too small. I am happy that there is no more debate over the principles of defense policy,” he said, adding that he feels some forces in Estonia want to stir up instability, but that the Estonian people have not gone along with it.
“On migration, we have managed to keep it under control and impose our own rules – but that topic is not yet over,” Tsahkna said.
He said the party endured a tough year, but it wasn't as bad as it looks as IRL managed to gain a strong position in government, Tsahkna added. “Our own expectations were higher than the election results showed. One stage is over and we must move on. Plans have been made and you will see us work actively next year. The greatest challenge was to get large reforms, which move Estonia forward, into the government's plans, such as administrative reform, state reform and measures to improve the situation of families,” he added.
IRL's greatest goals, to increase the tax free minimum, to improve the livelihood of larger families and to decrease the cost of running the state, have been filled, he said. “Instead of following political ratings, we have been active in passing decisions,” Tsahkna said.
“The government could have achieved even more, had coalition talks not been reopened in the summer and in that light, negotiations with [Edgar] Savisaar to form a new coalition took many months. It was surprising to me how easily one found the path to Savisaar's door,” he added, referring to the rumor that new SDE chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski held talks with Center Party head Savisaar in hops of forming a Reform-Party-less coalition. Ossinovski rejected the reports while Savisaar said they were true.
Answering a question on cooperation with SDE, Tsahkna said it is cooperation, not cohabitation. Speaking about the case of IRL MP Juhan Parts, who the party proposed for Estonia's seat at the European Court of Auditors, but whose candidacy SDE rejected, Tsahkna said he is surprised that the process was politicized.
Speaking about the party's low ratings (according to of the larges monthly polls, IRL is the least popular party in Parliament), Tsahkna said the party must do as the Estonian people and look towards the future. “The wording of open national conservatism and through that increasing confidence is essential for the continuation of our people. Disproportionate criticism towards our party gives us confidence that we are still needed. Those forces, who wish to humiliate the idea of the nation state, are working hard to attack us. But those attacks have not been fruitful before and nor are they now. Open national conservatism is not about shutting down and glaring at others, but the brave and confident defense of ones values,” he said.
Editor: J.M. Laats