Opinion digest: Estonia’s stagnating politics
Estonia’s largest political parties had been going through the most serious crisis in their existence, and on top of that they had lost their most important function, namely to formulate a vision of the country’s future, daily Postimees wrote in its Friday editorial.
The political elite had run completely out of ideas. Beyond matters of national security, there were no ideas how to revive the ailing economy, and no ideas how to meet the challenge of the accelerating demographic change.
Both the Reform and the Center Party could be seen as untouchable in Estonian politics, as their ratings showed no signs of change. Quite the opposite — apart from occasionally switching places, nothing much changed.
The editorial tells a joke out of Soviet Union times: Lenin proved that the state could be run by a kitchen girl, Khrushchev proved that it could be run by any idiot, and Brezhnev proved that it didn’t need to be run at all. This joke applied to Estonian politics as well, Postimees wrote, as leading his party and the government, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform) proved that there didn’t need to be a leader at all.
Within the Center Party, attempts were made to oust Edgar Savisaar, who had created the party in his own image, but whose opponents didn’t bother to deal with how morally questionable the party’s activities had become over the last decade. The way the new powers in the party staged themselves as the knights in shining armor begged the question how different they really were from the old guard, Postimees wrote.
Estonian politics had stagnated and arrived at a point where all its protagonists were interested in was maintaining the status quo. The parties, fixed on their own limited reality, had thrown aside considerations of different world views, and of clear positions.
Parties busy with nothing else than their own internal problems should never be seen as attractive to voters, the paper wrote. And just the same, parties that couldn’t offer alternatives shouldn’t be considered either, for example the Social Democrats, who could theoretically be a viable alternative, but were entirely incapable of offering changes or even defining a line of their own.
Just as well, the scandal-free Free Party wasn’t doing any better, as its members couldn’t even agree on anything amongst themselves. And apart from appearances by individuals here and there, IRL had completely disappeared from the scene.
The Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) didn’t make for much of an alternative either. Across Europe, parties rallying against immigration had gained some 20% of the vote, but in Estonia, a party couldn’t be built on that topic alone, especially not as the average income was well below that of Sweden or Finland, and the country not a desirable destination for economic migrants because of it.
Read Postimees' Oct. 21 editorial here (link in Estonian).