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Center Party getting ready for Riigikogu election campaign

Prime Minister and Center Party chairman, Jüri Ratas.
Prime Minister and Center Party chairman, Jüri Ratas. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

In a meeting on Saturday, the Center Party's extended leadership stressed that in a little over a year in government, it has broken many dogmas and political myths that after 15 years of Reform had defined Estonian politics, and announced a new vision for the country for the year 2040.

Under the leadership of the Center Party, big changes have been effected that earlier were considered both unnecessary and impossible, the party said. The new tax system improves the living standard of 80 percent of Estonian residents, additional money has been found for healthcare, farmers are helped, and local government strengthened.

"The facade of political myths about good and evil, right and wrong, black and white has started to crumble at last," a statement adopted at the meeting in the north-eastern industrial town of Kohtla-Järve read.

Economy at its fairest and best in six years

The flat tax system, which "with every percent it is reduced cuts another slice off of the income of the state and leaves money in the hands of the better-off," had been hailed for decades as the only possible option, elevating it to a supposed guarantee of foreign direct investment, the statement continued.

The party pointed out that the changes its government introduced to the tax system by making the tax-free income amount dependent on income size supported economic growth by increasing domestic consumption, the factor that the Estonian economy is still based on. To further simplify the system and make it even fairer, the party reiterated that a classic progressive income tax is necessary.

While the opposition typically insisted that the Center Party in government was tantamount to economic catastrophe, Ratas' year as prime minister had seen the fastest economic growth in six years. Moreover, this growth has been broad-based and prevalent in plenty of different areas, including construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and knowledge-based industries alike. Long-term unemployment is down, productivity is up, the party pointed out.

Reform Party government's failure to take action criticized

The Center Party's extended leadership also criticized the Reform Party. Its successive governments until late 2016 failed to take appropriate steps to build needed infrastructure on the Estonian-Russian border, and didn't address problems in the county's digital development that became explicit with last summer's ID-card security issues. As soon as the latter had been revealed, the Reform began attacking the new government, instead of admitting its own mistakes.

"These are just a few examples to prove that the time is finally up for myths that hold back substantive debate and development. Threats and confrontation are never sustainable. Now that precisely one year is left until the elections, we have the opportunity to start a substantive dialogue that will take life in Estonia forward, a state that is hundred years old deserves that its political culture finally grows up," the statement read.

New vision, platform to be put together

At the meeting Center's leadership also decided to form a work group to update the party's platform. With the next Riigikogu elections exactly one year away, the aim is to think about the future in longer terms and create what Ratas referred to as a vision what Estonia could be in the year 2040.

A more specific pre-election platform will be lined up as well, including the party's main campaign promises, a budget, and sources of funding. While the vision group will be led by the party's Tartu heavyweight, Aadu Must, work on the pre-election platform will be organized by Tanel Kiik, who also runs the Government Office.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS, ERR

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