Experts, Politicians Weigh in on Russian Voter Debate
After the Center Party preserved its majority in the Tallinn City Council thanks to heavy backing by the Russian-speaking electorate, Social Democrat MP Andres Anvelt said that the demographic group is isolated from ideological debates.
Anvelt told ERR radio on Monday that the fact that Russian-speaking voters again backed the Center Party shows that mistakes were made by all other parties. He added that Russian-speakers have been led, by the Center Party, to think that they will be repressed if anyone else takes power.
He said that while Estonians debate over how taxpayer funds are used in elections, the only decision Russian-speakers make is whether to support the Center Party or go against it.
Marju Lauristin, who was a Social Democrat candidate in Tartu, told Delfi today that IRL's campaign in Tallinn portrayed Edgar Savisaar as a pro-Russian politician, which further helped mobilize Russian-speaking voters to back him.
“I think the question of Russians has gone through a shift in the post-election debates. If during the previous elections the topic of considering Russian voters was treated negatively, then a number of parties now see it as neglected work and that is a huge leap towards positive changes,” Lauristin, a former social affairs minister, said.
Speaking on ETV, Tallinn University political scientist Raivo Vetik said that Sunday's elections showed once again that those who raise the ethnicity question win more votes.
“The Russian card was played from the very beginning of campaigning. The [IRL] slogan “For Estonian Interests” sounds logical for me and other Estonians, but if you can imagine what the average Russian voter might think, there will be some disparity,” Vetik said, adding that in Narva, where there is no great ethic divide, the pre-election debate was more constructive.