Coronavirus crisis mirroring state negligence, new SDE chair says

The Social Democrats elected their new chairman on February 5, 2022.
The Social Democrats elected their new chairman on February 5, 2022. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Lauri Läänemets, the new chairman of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE), highlighted state's behavior in the coronavirus crisis as an example of how not to act, and promised that his party would not leave those in trouble alone.

"The state cannot leave people on their own. That is why I say that the opportunity for the Social Democrats in this society exists and is coming. We cannot make a policy to do and manage, but we will work together and get out of these things together," Läänemets, elected at the weekend to replace Indrek Saar, said.

He said that the state made a major mistake already at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, when it said that the state must be closed to overcome the health crisis.

"We asked some people in society to lose their jobs and said that it was necessary for society to move forward. In some, work and income were essentially combined. But we can't leave these people alone: ​​you have to work hard for your society, but we will not give you anything, "Läänemets told ETV morning show "Terevisioon" Monday.

Although the subsidies were given, they were not enough for everyone, some people were left out, the chairman of SDE said.

"But there is defiance that is created when you're making an effort for society, but society doesn't care about you. I think it's a fundamental mistake," he said.

Läänemets talked about how he went to talk to people who had protested in front of the Riigikogu a year ago.

"When we talked about issues other than vaccination, it turned out that there were also people with mental health concerns about the drying up of the business. "He was still there, but he hadn't radicalized yet. He was a completely ordinary person with his usual worries," Läänemets described.

Läänemets said that the prevailing attitude of Estonia over the last 30 years has been shaped by the right-wing worldview of the Reform Party, "where you have to compete to death, everyone has to survive on their own".

Läänemets said that the concerns of people living in both the city and the countryside can be addressed at the same time: "People have a lot of common concerns, even a question of dignity that comes through your salary. "

Läänemets noted that his party has stood very strongly and prominently for the fundamental rights of the people, for the protection of democracy in recent years.

"But what has been missing or not recognized by the people is the livelihood of the Estonian family, the livelihood of the elderly, regional inequality and the fight against it - these are the issues I also talked about at the party's general assembly and which the Social Democrats are now doing a lot of work," he said.

Commenting on the great increase in the popularity of the party in Eesti 200, Läänemets found that the reason for this was that they had not said whether it was to the right or left of the worldview.

"When they say that, voters can start drawing their own conclusions. When you take action, people want to know what your agenda is really about. You can't stand for tax cuts and tax increases at the same time," he said.

Asked which political parties the Social Democrats are easiest to take away from, Läänemets answered: "We are going to run in the Riigikogu elections, not in the polls of Norstat or Emor. Rather, we need to talk about our issues and stand up for our values ​​so that people recognize themselves in them."

On Saturday, SDE's board elected Lauri Läänemets as the new chairman of the party, with 234 votes in favor, and 197 votes in favor of his opponent, former health minister Riina Sikkut. Indrek Saar announced he would be standing down after the October 2021 local elections.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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