At 44 percent support in the most recent voter survey, the Center Party seems poised to win the local elections in Tallinn. They are campaigning on their usual social-liberal platform and will depend on the Russian vote come election day.
The Center Party’s Tallinn platform includes a 12-page action plan. Here are its main points:
- Pensioners: raising the city’s pensions premium to €100 in 2018, making the city more accessible (incl. lower curbstones, more park benches, more low-floor buses), fixing up the Iru care home
- Health: more money for cardiologists at Tallinn’s hospitals to shorten waiting lines
- Schools: one free extra-curricular activity for every child, free lunches at schools continue, program to be extended to kindergartens as well, making kids’ bags lighter by offering a second set of school materials for free that they can leave at their school, continuing the existing renovation and maintenance programs for kindergartens and schools
- Children: fixing existing playgrounds and adding another 100 new ones, increasing the amount of Estonian used at Russian kindergartens, turning the island of Aegna (which belongs to the Kesklinn district of Tallinn) into an “Island for children” by building enough camps for 1,000 children to be able to spend time during the summer
- Public transport: no privatization, public transport remains free
- City planning: opening Tallinn to the sea, building “Europe’s most beautiful promenade” from the city’s eastern limit in Pirita to its western limit in Haabersti. Supporting an international marathon in Tallinn, which in the future would be routed along that promenade, planting more trees across the city, expanding an existing city gardens project, introducing park wardens, doubling the money spent on the maintenance of the city’s districts, renovating Linnahall in cooperation with the state and building a conference center, initiating a program for more indoor parking space in cooperation with the private sector, improving the city’s network of cycle paths, building Reidi street
- Housing: continuing the construction of city housing to shorten the waiting lines for families applying for city apartments
- Old town: increasing the city’s efforts to preserve the old town’s historic substance, maintaining the specific character of historic quarters
- City services: quality services in Russian and English in addition to Estonian, using smart solutions to improve life in the city, keeping up a public information service (Tallinna TV, city and city district papers), introducing an arbiter’s committee to deal with disputes in apartment owners’ associations, introducing standard renovation packages to be made available for free to these associations, introducing a support system to guarantee a minimum of utility services to every resident
- Families: extending family centers’ services to include immediate and qualified help for victims of domestic violence
2017 elections in Tallinn different for the Center Party
Tallinn’s city government was in the hands of Edgar Savisaar for years, who is currently on trial, facing embezzlement as well as money laundering charges. He is also accused of having accepted bribes and illegal political donations.
Savisaar is not running for office on the Center Party's list, but instead has joined forces with businessmen Jüri Mõis and Urmas Sõõrumaa and is running as a candidate of an independent election coalition.
Events like corruption charges and accusations brought against top members as well as last year's leadership change have led to disagreements within the party. Over recent months, several city officials that rose under Savisaar found themselves accused of corruption, among them deputy mayor Arvo Sarapuu, who allegedly meddled with the city’s waste disposal contracts in favor of private businesses that belong to his family.
The politics of acting mayor and Center Party candidate Taavi Aas have also faced heavy criticism by the other parties, who find that he isn’t doing enough to deal with Savisaar’s legacy of nepotism and corruption.
The Center Party is also in power at the national level, which means members of the central government are running for local council seats. The only Center Party government member not running for office locally is prime minister and party chairman Jüri Ratas, though he figures prominently in Center's election campaigns as a supporter of different candidates.
More information on the Center Party’s Tartu platform to follow. Advance voting starts on Oct. 5.
Editor: Dario Cavegn