Martin Helme elected chairman of EKRE

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The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) elected Martin Helme as its new chairman on Saturday. He received 382 votes.

Martin Helme ran unchallenged for the chairmanship of the party after Mart Helme, his father, stepped down last week. Martin Helme is also the minister of finance.

Minster of the Interior Mart Helme, President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas and Siim Pohlak were elected as vice-chairmen. Helme was elected with 332 votes, Pohlak with 208 votes and Põlluaas with 188 votes.

Other candidates for the position of vice-chairmen were MEP Jaak Madison, members of the Riigikogu Kert Kingo, Alar Laneman and Urmas Reitelmann.

Madison, who collected 166 votes, lost his position as vice-chairman but thanked the people who voted for him. He said his role in the party will remain the same and he intends to continue his work promoting a conservative worldview.

Speaking about this role within the party, he said: "Nothing will change much. However, the position of vice-chairman is only a token one... And so far, the vice-chairmen of the party have not played any major role."

The congress on Saturday elected the new chairman, three vice-chairmen, 11 members of the board, and 15 council members. The party's audit committee and the members of the court of honor will also be chosen. 

Below are summaries of the speeches given by Mart and Martin Helme at the congress.

Mart Helme at the EKRE congress on July 4. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Mart Helme to Ratas: In Tallinn, there is no power in the hands of Estonians

Mart Helme said on Saturday that he had told Prime Minister Jüri Ratas that Estonians do not have any power in Tallinn and in a couple of decades time the whole of Estonia will be similar to Ida-Viru County. 

This is the case if Estonia does not restrict migrant labor and immigration, he said. Ida-Viru County has the highest number of ethnic Russians in any county in Estonia.

Helme said previously, during a discussion about migrant labor: "I told him: Jüri. In 20 years I will probably not be in Estonian politics and maybe I will not even be alive anymore, but you are a young man. Look what has happened in Tallinn - in Tallinn, there is no power in the hands of Estonians.

"If we open the borders to cheap labor now, to all those who are washed up by the sea and carried by the wind, in a couple of decades the whole of Estonia will be Ida-Viru County. And you, dear friend, will have no position. They just won't need you anymore because they will choose their new Kõlvarts and Yana Tooms.

"It's very brutal and I told him that," Helme said.

The latest data on ethnicity from Statistics Estonia can be viewed here.

Helme: We have our feet on the ground

Helme continued his crisp words for his other coalition partner, Isamaa and the party's chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder. Helme said in order to be successful in politics, one must be able to change, one must be able to grow and keep one's feet on the ground.

He said Seeder had said on Friday that EKRE's feet are not on the ground, but he denied this. "We have our feet very firmly on the ground," Helme said.

"He promised to swallow us. Well, I don't know. Metštat ne vredno (you can dream - ed.), As the Russians say," Helme said.

Helme noted that what EKRE decides at the congress is an important milestone in terms of becoming the party who has the prime minister's position in the next national elections.

EKRE: It is good and safe to live in Estonia

Helme said EKRE fights for Estonia where the Estonian language and the Estonian mind reside

He said EKRE does not want foreign gangs in Estonia to start settling accounts by shooting each other, as has happened in Sweden.

According to Helme, the liberals have divided the Estonian people and scattered them. 

"All those parties that are in the Estonian political landscape have contributed to the division of the Estonian people, to the confusion of the Estonian people, to the brainwashing of the Estonian people and then blame us for that. We have not divided anyone," Helme said.

"We tell everyone to gather under our flag and then this Estonia will be preserved. This is an Estonia where you have a good and safe place to live," he added.

Helme also said he told his wife Monika and son Martin that he no longer wanted to lead the party a year ago. 

Martin Helme at the EKRE congress on July 4. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Martin Helme: I want Estonia to be like a Switzerland of the Baltic Sea

Minister of Finance Martin Helme said in a speech at the congress that he wants Estonia to become a Switzerland of the Baltic Sea region and suggested the new Nordic narrative should be forgotten.

"I want Estonia to be like Switzerland in the Baltic Sea. Smart. Hardworking. High-tech. Free. Secure. Morally pure. Beautiful in nature. Stubborn. A confident rich sovereign nation state," Helme said.

"Forget the new Nordic country. The political paradigm and social model there is something to be taken as a warning, not as an example."

Helme said one of EKRE's main goals is to strengthen the national economy. 

"This is how we ensure a good income for our people here, not across the gulf [of Finland], we guarantee the status of our land and forests, we ensure a society where wealth created here is not transferred to tax havens of global headquarters but is further invested here to create new wealth," Helme said.

"Our unwavering stance for the Estonian people and for the Estonian nation state on labor issues shows that our fundamental opposition to mass immigration is not motivated by racism or any other phobias, but by the desire to keep Estonia as Estonia and ensure that it is good to live here," Helme noted.

The full speech is published below:

"Mart [Helme], who headed our party for seven years, last week announced his wish to step down from the position of chairman and hand it over to someone else. He did it not out of fatigue or boredom, but so that we could become even stronger. We all owe him a great deal for his tremendous work and great achievements. I, too, owe him a lot. Behind Mart's broad back, I was able to do my job in the party so far, knowing with peace of mind that he is holding the responsibility of leader. Yes, I know most party members and a large part of the public think we are one and the same anyway, but I can assure you that the final decisions were still made by the chairman. And he had the ultimate responsibility for the party's course. This is a burden that cannot really be shared.

"I now stand before you and ask you to give that decision-making and responsibility to me. These are awesomely large shoes that I have to step into.
You already know and are familiar with me quite well, but a change of leader inevitably raises the question: what will change then?

"Our party is special and unique in Estonia, because we have the clearest worldview, you could say we are the most ideological party in Estonia. What definitely will not change are the politics, which have grown out of our deep convictions, regarding the normal family, traditional family values, the ideal of the nation state and Christian Europe. We believe that the best way to raise children is when their own mother and father do it, that the nicest family is one with sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles. For this to be the case, the state must support and motivate a whole range of attitudes as well as economic decisions. The traditional institution of marriage has not become meaningless, it has been dismantled and ridiculed for several generations, but no alternative to it has been offered. Here and namely here, we must look for the cause of the demographic crisis in the Western world, but also of the moral crisis. The crisis of self-belief.

"We continue to consider the most important basic value of the Estonian Constitution to be what is stated in the preamble: Estonia has been created as a nation state of Estonians and is our national reserve. Here, we can organize life at our own discretion, according to our traditions and peculiarities. Globalism is an unacceptable concept for us precisely because it can only win on top of the graves of nation states. Along with Estonianness, we are, in fact, defending the whole of European civilization.

"To all modern left-wing radicals and the breakers made crazy or the knee-takers intimidated by them, we say: Europe's civilization is the greatest achievement in human history. The best, the noblest, the most beautiful, the most creative, the most dynamic. Yes, with its bloody history -- who could know it better than us with our bloody and harsh history. Yes, with its shortcomings. But human nature is incomplete. We do not need to be ashamed of anything nor give up anything, either as Estonians or as Europeans. We will not rename any street, let any monument be demolished, allow ourselves to be pressured into making any excuses. The European way of life matters. White lives matter, too.

"I believe that economic issues will become very important to us in the coming years. We are facing difficult times from the recession caused by the coronavirus crisis. The current government, with our involvement, has already done a great deal to mitigate the effects of this crisis. We still have a long way to go to get out of the crisis as quickly and as strongly as possible. Our most important task is to provide jobs for our people. And not just jobs, but decently paid jobs. This is the central question in the issue of the so-called Ukrainian strawberry pickers. This is not a bullying Estonian farmers, as has been falsely claimed. It is a matter of standing up for the Estonian people so that it would be possible to find work and find a job with a good salary also in the rural areas of Estonia. Of course, those who have so far got cheaper labor will scream and shout. But contrary to the malicious slander, the aim of our labor policy is not harmful to rural areas, but beneficial. Our unwavering stance for the Estonian people and for the Estonian nation state on labor issues shows that our fundamental opposition to mass immigration is not motivated by racism or any other phobias, but by the desire to keep Estonia as Estonia and ensure that it is good to live here.

"In order to put the Estonian economy to work at a new, higher level and thus ensure the growth of real wages and a higher standard of living for all people, it is not necessary to invent miracle cures. This still requires four things to be done: lowering taxes, reducing regulations, encouraging innovation and ensuring that every year, the education system brings together people with the skills and knowledge to participate seamlessly in the beautiful process of creating new value. Of course, this is easier said than done.

"Whether it is tax cuts or deregulation, the opposition to change the existing one, even in the slightest, is enormous. However, we have shown that, as we promised, we reduced taxes. We have also shown that we can support our companies by providing the opportunity to borrow and make investments through Kredex, the Rural Development Foundation and Enterprise Estonia, despite the crisis. We have shown that we not only talk, but also work to ensure that the state stimulate the economy during the downturn, and have launched plans to implement major national infrastructure projects, which, admittedly, are progressing too slowly in my view. From here we return to deregulation: I consider it necessary to change the rules of planning and environmental impact assessment so that both the state and the private sector can build in Estonia faster and cheaper.

"What, then, is my vision of Estonia? What kind of an Estonia do I want to see? I want Estonia to be like the Switzerland of the Baltic Sea. Smart. Hard-working. High-tech. Free. Secure. Morally pure. Scenic. Stubborn. A confident and rich sovereign nation state. Forget a new Nordic country. The political paradigm and model of society there is something to be taken as a warning, not as an example!

"In addition to economic issues, we can in no way allow value issues to be relegated to the background. This fall, the coalition will take the two points of the coalition agreement most important to us to the Riigikogu. They simultaneously combine the theme of value policy and direct democracy. We need to legislate and administratively conduct a referendum during the 2021 local elections to amend the Constitution to define the family as a permanent union between one man and one woman. We know that the coalition parties have different opinions on this issue, and probably every party will campaign to defend its position. But there is an agreement on asking the question and there is no disagreement in the coalition on this issue. Nor do we have a dispute to amend the Constitution to give the people the right to hold referendums. We also want to launch this amendment in the Riigikogu in the fall.

"We have a difficult issue ahead of us in the coming months with regard to the European Union's budget and the rescue package. We are extremely skeptical about the proposals. I see a clear danger that, if the rescue package is adopted in its current form, it will move us closer to the United States  of Europe by several long steps. Under no circumstances can our party agree with this and it would not be in line with the provisions of the coalition agreement. While acknowledging that, in the light of the most serious economic crisis of the last hundred years, we need to agree on emergency measures to stimulate the European economy, this cannot be a cover for further federalization.

"In order to prevent this, a clear negative position on common taxes of the European Union, the reduction of tax sovereignty and the possibility that spending decisions will be made today without agreements on the sources of repayment were recorded in Estonia's official positions at our request. For our part, we have shown reasonableness and flexibility, and we have not torpedoed the functioning of the European Union or hindered the search for solutions. But our limit of leniency is full and we have no plans to back down from these positions.

"Mart, who is handing over the duties of chairman today, has said a lot that our goal should be 51 seats in the Riigikogu. I do not want to back down from this ambition, but let me put it a little differently. Our goal must be to win the next elections and to form the next government, that is, to take the place of prime minister. I am happy to do this only with the members of our parliamentary group, but I will also agree to forming a coalition again. I would like to emphasize here that neither the number of seats nor the fancy-sounding job titles is an end in itself. The aim is to implement the policy I just talked about. The goal is to shape Estonia in a way we think it should be. The aim is to ensure that the rest of the social elite -- political forces, the media, academics, entrepreneurs, entertainers, creators of high culture -- embrace our vision. Of course, achieving this is not easy. It does not come without confrontation. But we have shown that we are not afraid of difficulties. Over the course of a year in the government, we have also shown that we are worth believing -- we are living up to our promises! When voting for us, people know what they get. In order to achieve our goals, we need to work on ourselves, our party and, of course, with the electorate. Each of us can develop personally, listen to criticism and ask ourselves: could I have done something better, said something differently, explained something more thoroughly? Satisfaction with ourselves and where we have come from is the beginning of a recession. To prevent this, Mart withdrew from running for chairman again. Let us not waste his step, thinking that this need does not concern me!"


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Editor: Helen Wright

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