The opposition Isamaa party's Tartu regional branch board accepted 403 new members on Monday, most of whom joined in the wake of Madis Sütt, some-time founder of the non-parliamentary Rahva Tahe party. Considering there are 7,731 members in the party according to the business register data, the membership increased by 5.2 percent in that one day and stemming a general trend for a fall in party membership in recent years.
Sütt, who became a member of the party on January 19 this year, had tried to start his political activity with the Rahva Tahe Party in 2018. That campaign caught public attention due to the fact that there was a prize giveaway of a phone offered to those joining.
Head of Isamaa's Tartu branch, Kaspar Kokk, welcomed the new members, who in his opinion are evidence that the public is starting to understand who stands up for national values in Estonia.
Madis Sütt said that he wishes to perform national, conservative politics targeted to active people in the party. He is also planning to apply to the board of the party in Tartu in the fall.
I gained valuable experience with the Rahva Tahe on how politics operates. The plan to break through as a lone wolf was soon replaced by the understanding that the political spectrum in Estonia is already filled with political parties and it is more reasonable to seek cooperation. The only conceivable option was to join the Isamaa Party, which defines itself as a national party," Sütt said.
"I am glad that many like-minded people also followed my call to join [Isamaa], and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who believes in me from the bottom of my heart." Sütt went on.
The Rahva Tahe Party, formed at the end of 2018, and opposed the UN global migration framework, promised to establish a people's initiative, reduce Estonian forest felling volumes, complete work on widening the Tallinn-Tartu highway to four lanes in five years as some of its initial manifesto positions.
At the end of 2020, the number of members of the Isamaa Party stood at 7,797, 267 fewer than a year ago. Compared with the end of 2016, the number of members had decreased by 1,418, which is the largest decrease among the major Estonian political parties.
However, with the injection of the new ex-Rahva Tahe members, the number of members of Isamaa will increase again to over 8,000, the party announced.
Isamaa is the fourth largest party after the Center Party, the Reform Party and the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE). The party was in office for many years in a stretch across several coalitions, finally with Center and EKRE, until January this year.
Despite often polling around the 5 percent threshold required to win Riigikogu (or local or European) seats under Estonia's modified d'Hondt proportional representation system, the party boosted its number of Riigikogu seats (by one, to 12) at the March 2019 election, and in the ensuing Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition held some of the choicest ministries, primarily justice, defense and foreign.
Editor: Roberta Vaino