What went wrong with IRL's campaign (1)

(Postimees/Scanpix)
3/4/2015 3:00 PM
Category: Politics

IRL Chairman Urmas Reinsalu has taken full responsibility for his party's dismal showing at the national election, where IRL lost nine seats in the Parliament.

IRL leaders met on Tuesday to discuss the elections, but decided to stick with Reinsalu for the time being. Reinsalu himself said after the meeting that it's not yet certain whether he will carry on as party chairman as the party will hold more discussions on what went wrong.

Ene Ergma, long-serving IRL Parliament speaker who recently retired from politics, said Reinsalu and Juhan Parts, who led the party's election push, should consider stepping down. “I am not saying they should quit politics, but should they continue as leaders...” she said.

Political scientist Erik Moora said the low popularity of Parts, the party's candidate for the top job, is one of the main reasons for the election failure. Parts put in a strong performance in the prime minister candidate debate on ETV, which aired a day before the general election, but still managed to gain a few thousand votes less than four years ago.

Moora said the party focused on tax reform, not defense, which was the central theme of the election. The party was also too critical. “This tendency began after they were ejected from the government last spring; they adopted a criticizing, nagging and bitter tone, opting to be another complainer, not a driving force for the Estonian economy,” Moora said.

Olari Taal, one of the people behind the creation of Res Publica, one half of IRL, said the populist nature of IRL's campaign held it back in the polls.

He told Postimees the tax-free minimum numbers crunch, as explained in political ads, was still confusing, and big election promises reminded voters of the failed promise to cut utility bills, one that was followed by electricity price hikes. He added that IRL also didn't want to admit losing voters to the Free Party.

IRL won 14 seats in the Parliament, nine fewer than four years ago. The party only managed to attract 13.7 percent of the vote, compared to 20.5 percent in 2011.

J.M. Laats

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