Kristina Kallas, one of the leaders of political initiative Estonia 200, affirmed on Monday that establishing a party is not the group's primary aim, and that they will consider it only if by the end of the summer they have at least 15% support in voter surveys.
"If we see by the end of summer that support for us is 15%, then a party will have to be founded, and we need to enter the elections ourselves. We are a political start-up with ideas, and at present creating the possibilities to realise these ideas. For that we need support, and a group of supporters," Kallas said on social media on Monday.
While the movement and its ideas of a slimmer state, an efforts-based health care and social benefits system, and an extension of IT solutions along with an intensified fight against red tape has been welcomed by some, there has been plenty of criticism as well.
Comments range from appreciation of the group's effort to a rejection of their platform. Critics mainly argue that Estonia 200's ideas don't significantly differ from conservative platforms of the past, e.g. those of the Reform Party, the Pro Patria Union, and Res Publica in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Kallas has emphasised that regardless of registering their non-profit MTÜ Eesti 200 as a political movement, founding a new party is not the primary objective of the authors of the group's manifesto (see further down the page for details).
"We want to see great and substantive change in Estonia, an ambition to develop the economy, governance, environmental protection, health policy, and education policy," Kallas said. "We don't agree with the stance that the current system is pretty OK and only needs fine tuning. We believe that the current system won't take us to the year 2035, for example. Structural, large and substantive changes are needed in these areas," she added.
Estonia 200 and the group's manifesto
The group calls for a thorough renewal of Estonia's digital services and the e-state. It wants to make the state's digital channels the main means by which citizens communicate with government authorities and institutions.
Concerning the way the republic is run at the moment, the group wants to see more government action based on reform instead of a system focused entirely on the state's ministries and institutions. To this end, it suggests the creation of limited-term ministerial posts that would then be tasked with solving specific problems.
In terms of the economy, the group wants to reduce regulations and the amount of red tape businesses currently have to put up with. The Estonian business environment has to be changed to the effect that it attracts "ambitious companies" that want to do business through Estonia, and as they do so add value locally as well.
To achieve this, Estonia needs to develop the entrepreneurial environment as well as its education system, legal system, and infrastructure. "We need to connect Estonia by investing in internal connections and smart public transport, and create new external connections to better connect Estonia to the world," the manifesto reads.
The group also wants to reward individuals for what it calls "taking charge of their own health" by adapting the health insurance system in such a way that a healthier lifestyle can be rewarded. The current system based on treatment and insurance should be replaced by one that instead focuses on a healthy lifestyle and a health fund, the group finds.
The manifesto also states that the time has come to create a single school model for all of Estonia, under which Estonian speakers as well as Russian speakers and also students with other languages study together. The group also wants to better connect general education with vocational and higher education.
In terms of Estonia's nature, the group is in favor of the sustainable use of natural resources, basing local agriculture on a model that would "strengthen the ecological balance" and support biodiversity as well as take better care of the country's forests.
The group consists of IT bellwether Nortal's founder Priit Alamäe, director of the University of Tartu's Narva college Kristina Kallas, LHV Bank's corporate banking director Indrek Nuume, director of the children's fund of the Tartu University Clinic Küllike Saar, and director of the University of Tartu's Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies Kristiina Tõnisson.
Editor: Dario Cavegn
Source: BNS, ERR