Narva College Becoming Hub for Opposition Forces, Challenges Status Quo
Jevgeni Ossinovski has received high praise for leading the Social Democrats' charge in the Narva elections, but Erik Gamzejev, editor in chief of the regional newspaper Põhjarannik, said the University of Tartu's Narva College also played a big role.
Speaking on ERR radio on Wednesday, Gamzejev said the college has turned into a stronghold for the Social Democrats, with much of its staff running for council, including director Katri Raik.
Raik is a member of IRL but she ran under the Social Democrats, although ironically her 572 votes would have helped her own party past the electoral threshold.
“The quickly developing Narva College, which is orientated towards social sciences, is turning into an educational temple of growing importance, where people's worldviews are broadening and locals are being shown new possibilities,” Gamzejev said.
Another factor, he said, is that unlike other educational institutions and staff in the city, the college is not under the authority of the local government.
An ETV pre-election debate between candidates for the mayor's seat in Narva centered on corruption. At the debate, Ossinovski said that more than half of the ruling Center Party candidates are on the city's payroll, and that central powers have barred meetings between his party and education workers.
The opposition's task is not an easy one. Gamzejev said that when Raik put up her name for public office, she received hate mail and threatening e-mails. Similar methods were used when the new main building of the college, situated adjacent to City Hall, was opened a year ago.
The Social Democrats won eleven seats on the city's 31-member council on Sunday, having fallen short of the threshold four years before. Although the Center Party still won a majority, which it has held since 2002, this year's results mean the city will have a genuine and functioning opposition.