Journalists: Trump electoral defeat has taken wind out of EKRE sails

Martin Helme (left) and Mart Helme (EKRE).
Martin Helme (left) and Mart Helme (EKRE). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The recent attacks on the United States electoral process and the president-elect Joe Biden by leading members of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) result from the sudden removal of incumbent president, Donald Trump, as a figurehead, journalists Heidit Kaio, Huko Aaspõllu and Krister Paris find.

At the same time, that the EKRE leadership gets most of its news from what the three journalists, appearing on ERR radio show "Rahva teenrid" on Saturday, called extremist populist news portals, such as Breitbart, this was also the cause of its actions since November 3.

Delfi journalist Heidit Kaio said that Trump's losing the election had led to a loss of direction for EKRE, while at the same time, Isamaa's defense and foreign ministers, Jüri Luik and Urmas Reinsalu respectively, needed to be able to conduct diplomacy with the U.S. with a clear vision and without interference.

ERR journalist Huko Aaspõllu agreed, saying: "It could be that EKRE and the Helmes feel the wind has been taken out of their sails following Trump's loss, and this is probably why they were so upset last Sunday about this whole issue."

Then-interior minister Mart Helme and finance minister Martin Helme appeared on their regular Sunday Tre Raadio talk show on November 8, both agreeing that the U.S. presidential election of November 3 – whose winner had been declared in Joe Biden the day before – had been rigged, with Mart Helme adding that the new president elect was an odious character and that civil war in the U.S. was very possible.

Following a backlash soon after the Tre Raadio broadcast went out, Mart Helme stepped down as interior minister at the beginning of the new week, though Martin Helme survived a vote of no-confidence issued by the opposition Reform Party.

The approach that the Helmes have been taking so far has no long-term prospects, Aaspõllu felt.

"There is no chance that Joe Biden will not be installed as the next president of the United States, and I think that everyone here in Estonia certainly grasps that there is no point in spoiling for a fight," he said.

Part of the pushback against Mart Helme following his remarks was the security risk it posed, given the U.S., regardless of who is in the White House, is its key ally within NATO, since 2014 investing tens of millions of dollars in Estonia's defense and security.

Aaspõllu said that in that view, there was likely not a master plan from the EKRE leadership along the lines of disputing the election result.

"I have tried to make sense of what was the purpose or reason for Mart and Martin Helme, along with [EKRE MEP] Jaak Madison dissected these topics in this radio show and expressed themselves in this way. I have no single answer to this but it seems to me that this was not a case of a long-term plan or strategy, but somehow just happened," Aaspõllu went on.

"In trying to figure out why this happened, I find the theory that EKRE's leadership very closely monitors those of the American right-wing populist media to be the most plausible. Either that or to be quickly set up on the fly to see how effective it is, what it brings to pass or what it does not provide on motivating its (i.e. EKRE's – ed.) voters," he went on.

"If you are placed within this type of a media stream all the time, some of it is going to stick," he added, noting that Trump's challenging of the results could also be the latter's own domestic policy which may be aimed at the following elections in 2024, perhaps lining things up for one of his children as candidates.

EKRE was founded in 2012, several years before Donald Trump declared himself a presidential candidate for the 2016 election. It entered office together with Center and Isamaa in late April 2019.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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