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EKRE-type parties exists in parliaments across Europe, say analysts

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Political parties similar to the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) are represented in nearly all European parliaments, and it was only a question of time when this happened in Estonia, says University of Tartu political scientist Andres Kasekamp.

“Estonia has now gone the same way as nations such as Finland, where the True Finns recorded a good result at the last elections, and more recently the so-called Sweden Democrats in Sweden. These types of movements have sprung up everywhere and it was only a matter of time when they arrived in the Parliament of Estonia,” Kasekamp said.

He added that the National Alliance, EKRE's cooperation partner, is even in the government in Latvia.

Like the True Finns, EKRE has also received ample media attention after being elected to the parliament, finding out the hard way that all they now say will be heavily scrutinized. “(True Finn) Party head Timo Soini had to work hard to apologize for all those outbursts. With Estonia, I believe there will be more similar events,” Kasekamp said.

Aro Velmet, a doctoral student at the New York University, analysed the issue in greater detail in's opinion section. In his view, the true nature of EKRE's, comparable to the aforementioned Finnish and Swedish parties and the French National League, had been hitherto ignored by the its political rivals, including Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, analysts and the press.

Velmet said Madison's unfortunate blog post on fascism wouldn't have been that big of an issue, would it not be for the fact that it's part of a general pattern exhibited by EKRE's members. "Going on about Madison takes focus away from the real problem: he is not an exception in EKRE's ranks," Velmet wrote. "EKRE's flirtation with right wing symbolism is disturbingly common and their election program and slogans leave little doubt that what we have here are right wing radicals. What concerns me the most is the fact that it took so long for this to be noticed," Velmet wrote.

"It's difficult to find a minority group that the members of EKRE have not depicted as an existential threat to the survival of Estonian nationalism," he added. Such views are the result of reducing complex humans to stereotypes, based on characteristics they cannot choose, like skin color, sexual orientation, and ethnicity, and portraying them as detrimental to the well-being of a chosen few.

He added that EKRE is applying a similar doomsday-like language to Estonia's "corrupted political elite". "It's true that other parties too talk of big cartel parties and about corruption, take the second newcomer the Free Party for example, but only EKRE does it in a way that appeals to fear and demands immediate, radical change," Velmet explained.

However, he said that despite a number of deplorable views expressed by some of the younger members of the party, ERKE as a whole is not a fascist or national socialist party - they do not glorify programmatic violence, have no leader cult, and the party leader's have vigorously distanced themselves from any kind of totalitarian regime.

In his opinion, media did right not to keep quiet about things like Madison's blog post, which the party leader's initially dismissed as a political smear-campaign. "The seats EKREmists won in the Parliament will add authority and legitimacy to their views, but freedom of speech does not grant one freedom from criticism. If EKRE's member are talking in the name of 'healthy Estonia,' then it's very important that those people for whom healthy Estonia does not mean calling one forth of the population 'guests,' having a skin-color based immigration polity, and the state intervening in the private lives of same-sex couples, speak up."

Editor: J.M. Laats, M. Oll

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