Martin Helme: Party image can be changed without losing recent voters
Martin Helme, who was elected chairman of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) on Saturday and aims to win the next Riigikogu elections and become prime minister, told "Aktuaalne kaamera" in an interview that in order to find new supporters, the party's image can be changed without losing recent voters.
You want to form the next government and take the prime minister's portfolio for yourself. That would require more supporters. Where should they come from and how?
Yes, we are talking about long-term plans here, a prospect of at least three years. There is no one particular voter profile we aim to woo and we are rather talking about different pieces of different segments to use political technological terms. We are also talking about people who usually do not vote. While I suppose there are Reform, Center and perhaps Isamaa supporters who could consider voting for us down the line.
You might have to change your image in order to find new supporters. Are you not afraid this might cost you your current voters?
We need to make sure to attract more people than will leave. We need to very carefully observe and listen to our current voters and members, which was one part of my message to fellow EKRE members today – that some things that grow out of our ideological foundation will surely be retained and taken forward.
I'm not overly worried. It is not a zero-sum game. I believe we can slightly adjust our image without losing recent voters because we can change our format without changing what lies at the heart.
In order to find new supporters, you would need something to offer women as they tend to vote for other parties today. Your voters are mostly men. What would you offer women?
We will be coming out with messages to address this deficit we have among women, but also certain age groups and geographic regions…
What about women, specifically?
I would refrain from voicing these messages here today, especially over two and a half minutes, but we have given the matter thought.
Could a coalition with the Reform Party be possible?
I believe most everyone has asked me that tonight.
And you have told them no. Why is that?
Because I'm satisfied with the coalition we have today and consider it poor political culture to try and make moves half-way into the game. But generally speaking, in terms of the next Riigikogu or local elections in larger municipalities, my message is that I do not rule anyone out because of the colors on their banner. Instead, I try to find as much common ground as possible.
The reason is not trepidation for the prospect of a coalition with Reform?
Rather, I believe they should be asked whether they fear something.
Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa chairman – ed.) has said that EKRE is becoming as arrogant as the Reform Party. Do you think it's possible your voters will at one point find you have become a little like Reform?
I have not heard from our members or voters that we have become arrogant somehow. If there's been criticism, it's that things aren't coming along quickly enough – criticism we can partially agree to. /…/ Isamaa politicians have given some rather sharp interview in recent days. I believe that it rather reflects their concern for their party's political position.
Are you not afraid your father handed over the party at a time where you have already reached peak popularity, with the rest of the journey going downhill from here?
Certainly not. I believe our best times are still ahead of us.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski