Analyst: New mode in Estonian politics
Constant short-term scandals constitute a new situation in Estonian politics, but because no coalition partner wants to break apart the government, there is no end in sight, University of Tartu political analyst Martin Mölder said on Vikerraadio.
"What we have seen since Sunday (when Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) criticized Finland's new prime minister – ed.) is another episode in a familiar series. For the past six months, our politics has seen the national conservatives create one scandal after another that spark short-term media crises but also blow over relatively quickly. They sometimes include no-confidence motions in the parliament, while these are dismissed just as expediently. Our politics has been shifted into a different gear altogether. Frequent scandals that disappear as abruptly as they were created coming to nothing – it is a new logic we have not yet adjusted to," Mölder said on the Vikerhommik radio program.
The expert said that there is no solution in sight for the current situation because neither EKRE, Isamaa nor Centre can afford to leave the government.
"The political situation is locked down to a degree. We are seeing these crises simply because the government is very difficult to replace. Jüri Ratas (Centre) cannot replace either one of his coalition partners nor can he form a different government – with the Reform Party, for example – without losing the keys to the prime minister's office. It is a kind of tense balance that allows EKRE to create these scandals and feed off them," Mölder explained.
The consequences of this are twofold, Mölder added. "For EKRE, it is their modus operandi, the way they operate and shape their image. That said, I believe scandals this frequent will eventually deter people from keeping up with politics and work to deepen conflicts, polarization between supporters of different political forces," he said.
Asked whether Helme's criticism (of Marin and the Finnish government – ed.) has harmed Estonia's international reputation, especially considering it was picked up the international press, Mölder said the effect is likely negligible.
"Perhaps there was a smidgen of damage done. But it pays to remember that all of it feels more important here than it does elsewhere. Estonian domestic politics is not a priority for other countries and no great significance is attached to it," Mölder said.
"I'm sure it caught someone's eye, but it would take a lot more time, more consecutive incidents to really ruin Estonia's reputation. It matters more to some people, those who keep a closer eye on the field, but I see it as only a tiny step toward some people thinking less of Estonia. But it is definitely not the ruination of Estonia's reputation for anyone outside the country," the analyst said.
Commenting on the atmosphere in the government, Mölder believes it might not be half as poor as it looks.
"What we need to remember is that how the government looks from the outside and how it looks from the inside are two different things, and what happens at the negotiating desk, behind closed doors, without journalists, cameras and microphones present – it's something else entirely. I believe cooperation is much closer than the picture painted by the media suggests," he found.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski