Belittling cashier also hits EKRE voters

Marju Himma.
Marju Himma. Source: Kairit Leibold /ERR

By insulting Finland's young female prime minister, Mart Helme first and foremost insulted his own voters: people who have simple jobs, less fortunate people and rural area residents, Marju Himma says in Vikerraadio's media comment.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre Party) was once again forced to smooth over an utterance by his coalition partner. This time it was Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) and what he said on his Sunday talk show on TRE Radio: "Now, we can see how a sales girl has become a prime minister and how other street activists and uneducated people have become members of a government."

Helme was referring to Finland's new Prime Minister Sanna Marin, a 34-year-old woman from the Social Democratic Party. Marin is from a rainbow family, meaning that she has two mothers. She is also a woman with higher education, a mother and has worked as a cashier at one point in her life.

Naturally, an insult aimed at the premier of a neighboring country once again sent Estonian PM Jüri Ratas apologizing to Finland and calling to order his fellow coalition members, urging them to publicly affirm that what Helme said did not represent the position of the entire government.

In truth, the Sunday talk show on TRE Radio belongs in the opinion category. Because the show is being paid for by EKRE, its guests sport a right-conservative worldview and it is aimed primarily at conservative voters partial to nationalist views.

The lion's share of the program concentrated on elections in the U.K. I must admit that it was interesting to listen to an alternative viewpoint. The insult was hurled at the Finnish PM almost casually.

However, I would have expected a national conservative program to concentrate more on domestic issues. For example, the farmers' protest meeting on Toompea Hill last week where EKRE played a key role in how much more farmers would get in terms of top-up subsidies. Farmers include a lot of loyal EKRE supporters.

Agriculture was only mentioned in the context of foreign policy and in terms of how to get more money from the supposedly hostile European Union. I would have liked to hear what EKRE have done to secure that money and offer Estonian farmers the same subsidies farmers of old EU member states are entitled to.

The wives and daughters of Estonian farmers often work as cashiers or servers in local shops. They were sent a clear message by Helme that their work is undignified and unimportant and that people who are thus employed are not fit to have a say in running the country.

Derogatory use of the term "sales girl" insulted everyone who does simple work – whether we're talking about cashiers, construction workers, handymen, janitors – they do not belong where decisions are made, according to Mart Helme.

Another topic the program did not touch was the pharmacy reform. In other words, what other political shows and almost every single politician talked about the most last week. About how laws are amended and who stands to benefit from the pharmaceuticals market increasingly depending on a single entrepreneur.

I would have liked to know what EKRE politicians have done in the process of overturning the pharmacy reform and the reasons for their actions or inaction.

There was nothing on the pharmacy service likely to take a hit for people in rural areas who also tend to vote EKRE – people having to go to major cities if they need the right drug for their child quickly because the local pharmacy is closed or does not have it.

Therefore, insults hurled at a female politician and damage done to Estonia's image in the eyes of its neighbor aside, Mart Helme first and foremost insulted and humiliated EKRE voters.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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