Alo Lõhmus: Left turns and ‘silent submission’ ({{commentsTotal}})

Opinion
Opinion

The embarrassing conflation of the Reform Party’s self-image with the Estonian state is proof that it is high time they are sent into opposition, says journalist Alo Lõhmus.

The news about the government breaking up was hardly out when the Reform Party’s representatives started to label the government change as a “left turn”. This use of the term had many an opponent of the party wondering and annoyed.

How are IRL, who defined Estonia’s economic and tax policy of the last decades, more left-wing than the Reform Party, for instance? Even the Center Party’s views can’t be taken as decidedly more leftist than those of its sister party. (Editor’s note: In the European Parliament, Reform and Center are both members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the same party.)

Actually, all of our parties in the Riigikogu, including the Social Democrats, are pretty quiet centrist parties.

The year-long election slogan of the Center Party, the progressive income tax, is nothing particularly connected to left-wing politics in the context of Europe and the world.

Actually, all of our parties in the Riigikogu, including the Social Democrats, are pretty quiet centrist parties.

And the term of the “left turn” has one more important meaning in Estonian history — connected with the events of the year 1940, when with the help of military pressure from another country a “leftist” puppet government was installed, upon which the quick liquidation of Estonia’s formal independence followed.

When the Minister of the Interior talks about how dangerous something or someone is, the police and prison are looming. And those again have to be feared by bad people, for example by rebels and traitors.

To create just this association is the real goal of the Reform Party’s scaremongering campaign, and several facts point to that.

Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur for example said that a leftist government would be dangerous for Estonia. Naturally Pevkur assures us that he said this as a politician of a right-wing party, but when the Minister of the Interior talks about how dangerous something or someone is, the police and prison are looming. And those again have to be feared by bad people, for example by rebels and traitors.

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas’ declaration yesterday that the Reform Party didn’t plan to “submit silently” was already a direct reference to the 1940 coup and occupation.

This is an attempt at creating a connection: Not supporting the Reform Party’s government is dangerous to the state.

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas’ declaration yesterday that the Reform Party didn’t plan to “submit silently” was already a direct reference to the 1940 coup and occupation. The notion of a “silent submission” was introduced to fashionable Estonia by historian Magnus Ilmjärv, whose voluminous book of the same name deals with the domestic and international events that led to the fall of the Republic of Estonia.

To make sure that nobody got it wrong, influential Reform Party member Eerik-Niiles Kross posted a newspaper clipping out of the year 1940 on social media yesterday with the declaration of the Vares-Barbarus government that pledged to fully carry out the mutual assistance pact it had signed with the Soviet Union, and to build a true and friendly relationship with that country.

Comparing Estonian parties and a government to be formed by them to a puppet government installed by an enemy state is simply inappropriate.

Member of the Riigikogu for the prime minister’s party, Kross commented the post with the words: “Pretty good document. A declaration of an earlier government of the people.”

Comparing Estonian parties and a government to be formed by them to a puppet government installed by an enemy state is simply inappropriate. In a parliamentary democracy, changing governments and also exchanging the parties that form them is a natural process.

It used to be this way in Estonia as well. For example when the coalition of Pro Patria, Estonian National Independence Party, and the Moderates was replaced in 1995 with a coalition of Koonderakond ja Maarahva Ühendus and the Center Party — and the sky didn’t come crashing down over it.

The Reform Party seems a bit like the Communist Party of Estonia in Perestroika times, who accused the newly forming political groups of planning to take over the government — just as if this wasn’t the natural aim of any political party.

In 17 years in government, the Reform Party has begun to noticeably identify itself with the Estonian state, and this so strongly that it translates a parliamentary move against itself as the undermining of the Estonian state.

With this behavior, the Reform Party seems a bit like the Communist Party of Estonia in Perestroika times, who accused the newly forming political groups of planning to take over the government — just as if this wasn’t the natural aim of any political party.

The Reform Party’s embarrassing conflation of their self-image with the Estonian state is proof that it is high time they be sent into opposition.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn



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