A recent decision by the Estonian Green party to use a debt collection company to retrospectively collect membership fees from former members who had now joined the eco-focused Biodiversity Party, was a mistake, says Biodiversity leading member Artur Talvik, though a merger with his party and the Free Party, on a platform broadly aimed at reforming democratic processes in Estonia, is still possible.
The Biodiversity Party (Estonian: Elurikkuse erakond) is in ongoing negotiations with the Free Party, which Talvik used to lead. Neither party has Riigikogu seats, though Free had half a dozen in the last (XIII) Riigikogu.
Both parties are polling between 1 and 2 percent, well below the 5 percent threshold needed to be represented in the Riigikogu. They have both expressed interest in the Greens, who also lack seats, joining with them in future as well, however.
Speaking on Vikerraadio show Uudis+ on Monday, Talvik said that the Greens have recently made tactical mistakes, including the debt collection move.
"For example, the decision of the Greens' Board to send collection notices to our (Richness of Life) former (Greens) members to alleviate their financial problems. We have many former Greens in the Biodiversity Party and it rubbed them up the wrong way; it will have a bad effect," said Talvik.
Talvik said that the Biodiversity Party, formed in 2018, was aimed at contesting the 2019 general election, precisely because it was wanted to unite the Free Party and the Greens before the elections too, but nothing came of that.
"Now the Biodiversity Party could be such a unifying link. I feel that there is interest from the Greens, but they are a bit stuck in their old party lines of thinking and have cemented themselves with it. They should let go of the old ways," Talvik said.
While Free and Biodiversity are close to a merger, the Greens are to conduct a party ballot on whether to join them. Biodiversity does not have a leader as such – Talvik was its "prime ministerial candidate" in the 2019 elections. The Green Party leader is Züleyxa "Zuzu" Izmailova , and Free's is currently led by Heiki Lill – the party's third leader in the past two years (he was preceded by Kaul Nurm, and before that, Andres Herkel.
Zuzu Izmailova has recently said that Free and Richness of Life are merging to avoid liquidation; parties need a minimum of 500 members to be legally registered as such.
Editor: Andrew Whyte