Conference Critiques Political Landscape, Showcases National Conservative Parties' Legacy
A conference devoted to the 25th anniversary of the first non-communist political party in Soviet Union surveyed last year's perceived crisis of democracy from yet another angle and provided a mustering point for the national conservative parties going into local elections.
Besides IRL figures, speakers at the September 28 event included Paul-Eerik Rummo (Reform Party) along with European Parliament Vice President Alejo Vidal–Quadras and MEP Gunnar Hökmark.
The most prominent opposition member speaking at the conference marking the birth of the National Independence Party, Marju Lauristin, said that 25 years ago, parties were essentially NGOs that were concerned with ideals, not power. Now, she said, they were "profit-seeking political corporations."
"In connection with the rapid growth of new NGOs, a point of comparison has now developed," she said, "between people truly coming out on their own accord and driven by a certain ideal, and, on the other hand, the sight of parties having become some form of political business."
"I think the proposal made by the citizen's parliament that the threshold for newcomers should be lowered expressed that same spirit - that access to political discourse be open to all. And if these proposals do open competition again, parties will start acting differently, as they will have a real need to profile what they are actually doing, their actual platform, not some slogans."
Slogans could not be avoided entirely, as the conference posters struck a parallel to the campaign ads for IRL's mayoral candidate Eerik-Niiles Kross.
Kross delivered the closing address, which was shared extensively on social networks over the weekend.
Organizers said it wasn't the main intention to wax political.
"We aren't dealing with campaign nuances. My goal in initiating this conference was that it should [have] a trans-partisan approach. It isn't about specific elections, but an opportunity to transcend the inter party barriers and short-sighted strife and achieve some kind of national level," said Tunne Kelam, a current MEP who was longtime chairman of the National Independence Party.