Isamaa MP: Right-wing parties taking on leftist views

Isamaa flags.
Isamaa flags. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Some Estonian parties that have previously self-identified as distinctly right-wing, have begun taking on leftist views, MP Mihhail Lotman from Isamaa party wrote in his blog.

"The [opposition] Reform Party is considered a right-wing party, even though this changed a long time ago - their entrepreneur-friendly views are eroding, and distinctly socialist attitudes can be observed in the speeches of several of the party's MPs. For instance the saga with the second pension pillar fund. I can understand the Social Democrats who, as uttered by [MP] Riina Sikkut, compared Estonian residents with children who don't want to go to kindergarten, but are nonetheless taken there by their smart mother to serve their best interests. What I'm finding much more difficult to comprehend is the Reform Party's intense resistance to rendering the second pillar fund voluntary," Lotman wrote.

As to Isamaa's coalition partner the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), its views came to light during the present agricultural crisis, according to Lotman.

"I only have two remarks about their resounding rhetoric on Estonians wanting to work their fields themselves and the need to direct school students to assist in harvest. Firstly, it is true that Estonians do not shy away from agricultural work, but they want to be the master in their land, and not the serf," he said.

"And secondly, this whole new magnificent plan of EKRE for saving agriculture is nothing but an attempt to reestablish the kolkhoz order [a system of collective farms during the Soviet occupation - ed]. While a disproportionately large share of the population was involved in Soviet-era agriculture, they still weren't up to the task. Each spring, university students and researchers had to be sent to clear fields of stones, and the period of harvest was a particularly busy time, when school children, too, were sent to fields," Lotman noted. 

Mihhail Lotman Source: Rene Suurkaev / ERR

"In Soviet phraseology, the fall agricultural work was called 'the fight for crops'. While I'm not a pacifist, I nonetheless hope that my grandchildren will never be made to wage war on the fields of Estonia," the Isamaa MP concluded.

Last week 111 members of Isamaa announced they had launched an association within in the party called "Parempoolsed" (Right-wingers) with a manifesto titled "The right-wing choice for Estonia". They promise to stand up for Western values and right-wing opinions but against extremists in Estonian politics.

Among other things, the party supports Western values, "smart" managed migration, simple and low taxes, an open economy and pushing forward with innovation and change.

"The Association of Right-wingers deems it important that Estonia be a successful open economy where an important portion of responsibility lies with the people -- the state doesn't need to intervene at every opportunity, trying to teach businesses how to operate and people how to live," Kaido Kukk, member of Isamaa and the Tallinn city council, said.

The founders of the association opined that classical right-wing attitudes are declining in Estonia as the opposition Reform Party has given up on its right-wing views and new parties hold either left-wing or extreme populist positions. Isamaa must provide an alternative to this and bring together right-wing voters, they said.

EKRE leader: Isamaa right-wingers targeting market share inhabited by all Estonian parties

Martin Helme Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Leader of the EKRE Martin Helme said that the right-wing association formed within the Isamaa party appears to be an attempt to create not even a third version of Isamaa but a second version of the Free Party, Postimees reports. 

"In one of today's editorials, the developments in Isamaa were called Isamaa 3.0. I also read this text [the association's manifesto] and the names of the signatories thereto and I must say, it feels more like the Free Party 2.0. And, looking at the initiators, also like Res Publica 2.0," Helme wrote on social media on Friday.

According to Helme, the Free Party did not fail due to having weak leaders or organization but due to a lack of demand for political slogans spouted by the party such as "open nationalism" and "liberal conservatism", with which it attempted to sell "globalist euro-liberal pink hogwash" to national conservative voters.

Reform Party leader thinks a different government might better suit Isamaa's views

Kaja Kallas. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Leader of the opposition Reform Party Kaja Kallas opined that Isamaa, a junior member of the government coalition, is headed in the right direction having created a new right-wing association within the party, Postimees reports.

Kallas said Isamaa's decision shows the party is engaged in internal discussions over the direction it should take and whether or not the present government is the right one for the party.

"In their words, Isamaa and EKRE are both right-wing parties, but in their deeds they are not, if one looks at the government's actions," Kallas said, adding that she deems the discussions a positive development.

"Secondly, I found it interesting to read all these ideas - for instance they want a uniform tax system. All of this is also what the Reform Party stands for," Kallas said, adding that it would be reasonable for Isamaa and the Reform Party to join forces in this matter as Isamaa cannot promote this goal in the current government.

The Reform Party leader said the moment of truth will arrive in the fall when difficult decisions need to be made and votes will be held in the Riigikogu.

"We'll see how they conduct themselves then," Kallas. "Perhaps there's another government, one that would better suit the direction of the Association of Right-Wingers. Naturally, we are very much in favor of it and will support it as these ideas are also well-suited for the Reform Party."


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Editor: Helen Wright

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