SDE, Parempoolsed and Isamaa leaders debate key issues ahead of elections
Chair of the Social Democratic Party (SDE), Lauri Läänemets, Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder, and Parempoolsed chief Lavly Perling participated in the latest debate of Vikerraadio's "Valimisstuudio " series. With the Riigikogu elections edging ever nearer, the participants discussed the most important issues for their respective parties.
Responding to a question regarding his alleged absence from coalition meetings, current Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said, that he was simply doing his job and sometimes had to attend other meetings during which he was unable to use other means of communication.
Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa) admitted, that he has not met Lavly Perling (Parempoolsed) since the latter left Isamaa, though he has seen Läänemets. "The last time I met Lauri was on Saturday at Viljandi Market, while we were campaigning for the elections. So, we still get to meet our competitors," Seeder said.
Asked if he regretted the expulsion of the members of Parempoolsed from Isamaa, as they are now running independently and taking votes away from his party, Seeder said, that clarity is important.
"I have no regrets. I think it was beneficial for Isamaa and for Estonian politics in general," Seeder said.
According to Perling, Parempoolsed left Isamaa due to a difference of world views, adding that her former party has become essentially left-wing, not unlike the SDE. "Historically it is true that Isamaa has been a right-wing party and has made all the right-wing reforms that have brought Estonia success. They have been carried by the Isamaa of the (Mart) Laar era. However, in this respect, Mr. Seeder is certainly correct, that Isamaa today has moved to the left," Perling said.
Nonetheless, Perling said, Parempoolsed is ready to cooperate with the other parties.
SDE want to raise income
Introducing his party's platform, Lauri Läänemets said, that for the Social Democratic Party, people's livelihoods are of upmost importance
"If prices have gone up, then they will not go down, even if someone promises three-cent electricity or that 'we will give free electricity,'" he said. "Unfortunately, prices will not come down. This means that wages have to go up. For the Social Democratic Party, it is important that the minimum wage goes up to €1,200 (per month)."
The Social Democratic Party also want to create 15,000 more jobs throughout Estonia. "For us every person is important, no matter what family or how big a family they come from or what their lifestyle is - we will defend these values," Läänemets added.
Seeder: Wide range of issues
Seeder was the first to highlight the Soviet-era symbols act, which has been passed by the current parliament but is not yet certain to come into force.
He then discussed coping in the broadest sense, touching on issues which concern individuals in society as well as businesses and Estonia's economic competitiveness.
Seeder went on to highlight the issues of national defense and security, which are not limited to just money and weapons. The Isamaa chair also mentioned the rights of Russian citizens to vote in local elections and the issue of them being able to have weapons licenses, as well as Estonian language requirements for local councilors and stricter border controls.
Seeder then discussed a range of issues relating to demographics and family policy and then education. Finally, he discussed the economy, energy and regional policies.
Parempoolsed: Economy is the basis
Lavly Perling said, that for Parempoolsed, everything boils down to the economy. "The economy is the basis of everything. We believe, that people who can manage for themselves in this country are the country's greatest asset. This means, that if people can get by with their jobs and put bread on the table, that is a value."
Perling said, that Parempoolsed was formed because its members felt the voice of reason was disappearing from governance in the country. "We waste, we embezzle, we hand out subsidies to everybody. On the one hand, to deprived children, whose only warm food is school meals, and on the other hand - excuse me - to millionaires, top managers and middle managers!"
Last year, she said, everyone received price increase subsidies, regardless of whether they were millionaires or had children and needed financial support. "We would stop this nonsense, we would stop this waste, we have a savings plan!" she said.
Perling stressed the need to grow the economy as another important issue. "If the economy is in order, people have bread on the table, and investment, talent and money are coming in, then our security is protected because people's resilience is growing and they care about what they have. The people are the greatest guarantee of our security," she said.
According to Perling, Estonian culture is also important for Parempoolsed. However, culture will be well preserved if and when the Estonian economy is doing well, because in that case, there will be enough money to keep everything going.
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Editor: Michael Cole