IRL leader: Getting economy going again Estonia’s biggest challenge
Speaking at a meeting of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) council on Saturday, party chairman Margus Tsahkna said that getting the economy going again will be the biggest challenge Estonia has to face in coming years.
According to IRL spokespeople, Tsahnka stated that the Estonian economy has not realized its potential and attention must now be shifted to getting the it going.
“We have kept our word and have carried out all of our major pre-election promises during this year in government — the administrative reform, policy for large families, the child support fund, income tax reimbursements for low-income earners,” the party leader recalled. “We have also managed to react to the European refugee crisis to ensure that legislation protects the interests of the state.”
“Analyses by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of Estonia show that our economy’s growth potential is 4 percent per year," Tsahkna went on. "Since we haven’t achieved this, we have to change the economic policy. After carrying out our pre-election promises, we aren’t going to engage in fine-tuning in the government, but rather have to implement reforms that will enliven the economy.”
“In collaboration with all business organizations,” the party leader continued, “We have drawn up the Competitiveness 2.0 action plan, which must be carried out now. Teaching entrepreneurs how to improve conditions for their own development is not something that politicians should be doing. It is their proposals that have to be carried out, from reducing bureaucracy and overregulation to tax policy.”
Era of populists to blame for party’s low rating
The new lineup of the extended board had gathered in Tartu on Saturday to elect its chairman and two deputy chairmen. The extended board reelected MP Helir-Valdor Seeder as its chairman, and Põlva County Gvernor Ulla Preeden and Tallinn city councilman Tarmo Kruusimäe as deputy chairmen.
Speaking to the council, IRL Chairman Margus Tsahkna blamed what he called an era of populists in politics for the party’s low ratings.
“We are in an era of populists in Estonia and Europe right now,” the head of the party said, speaking to the council. “In the 1990s, Pro Patria received a lot of criticism for its conservative migration and citizenship policy, as we continue to now, but it is the right path.”
IRL, the most junior member of the current ruling three-party coalition, earned 13.7 percent of the vote in March 2015 general elections, compared to 20.5 percent in 2011 elections. In polls of voters conducted this year, the party has seen its popularity sink to as low as 6 percent, which is just one percentage point above the election threshold.
IRL’s governing council consists of 145 members elected by the party’s regional chapters. The council meets at least twice per year — once in the spring, and once in the fall.