Reprising many ideas heard during his Ice Cellar meeting held to address the previous scandal to hit the Reform Party, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves warned today that the current in-house voting scandal was not just about the party but could unleash a snowball effect undermining democracy.
Ilves emphasized in his remarks today in a meeting with party leaders that the current vote-rigging scandal first emerged in connection with the Reform Party election, not the national e-elections. Although the national elections are the subject of unrelated scrutiny from some parties for possible security flaws, Ilves said the two should not be confused, and even asked at one point: "Why are not trustworthy election systems used, similarly to the national elections?"
But he issued stern pronouncements about what else could be extrapolated from the events surrounding the Reform Party election, where vote-rigging is said to have taken place.
"If one's own people are deceived and there is no thought given to Estonia's trustworthiness, then we must ask: how will others and opponents fare? The answer: public resources will be abused, illegal assistance will be procured, the state and local government apparatus will be politicized, those who think differently will be steamrolled, mocked, marginalized."
He listed several risks in the current situation - that it would lower the reputation of Estonia in the eyes of its citizens and discredit institutions; and that the stigma could drive idealistic and conscientious citizens away from politics altogether.
Ilves called on parties to be less "sectarian," not just out for themselves and chasing new members.
"The 'winner takes all' attitude will prevent Estonia from reaching the best and sustainable solutions. We need ideas on how to give all children an equally strong educational head start, how to reduce economic equality, how to get Estonia working and in order in every sense. Why are these topics not at the centre of public discussion aimed at producing solutions? Why is any criticism taken as a personal attack?"