NO99: Theater Use of Satirical Party Name Surprising Coming from Ex-Foreign Minister
Dramatist Eero Epner explained in an opinion piece published on the website of the NO99 theater why the institution won't allow a liberal politician to appropriate the name of its fake party.
The name Ühtne Eesti (United Estonia) was chosen by MEP Kristiina Ojuland, a liberal right politician in the process of creating a new party. Ühtne Eesti was also the name of a fictional party created by the alternative theater NO99 in a 2010 performance to skewer the political establishment.
In a scathing attack on the leaders of the new party, Epner highlighted key aspects of the performance and its significance in Estonia, such as ethics, allusions to Russia, unity and party politics.
According to Epner, the theater was not previously consulted about using the name and found out about it only in the press. He dismissed claims from the Ojuland camp that the party foundation meeting ran too late to be able to call NO99.
He also contested the argument that the future party would not trade on the name, stating that "the name Ühtne Eesti is capital, which will be used to buy seats in Parliament."
Since one of Ojuland's explanations for the name choice was its popularity, Epner suggested other names that are equally popular, such as "Coca-Cola and Nelson Mandela."
He also stressed that the resemblance between the theater's fictional party name and Vladimir Putin's party United Russia was intentional and that United Estonia symbolized the same lust for power, oppression of dissent and aggressiveness as United Russia.
"Most Estonians know what United Russia stands for. It is surprising that a former foreign minister and a current MEP does not."
Furthermore, the word "united" is a deliberate and clear allusion to fascism, Epner said.
Epner highlighted the fictional aspect of the party and emphasized that the new party could not finish what the performance started because it represents two major features the performance was aimed against: faith in newcomers and the conviction that politics is limited to political parties alone.
After the theater expressed its opposition, Ojuland admitted that the party could reconsider the name but a clear decision had not been made.