2019 elections: no platforms yet, hot phase expected to begin in autumn ({{commentsTotal}})

Toompea Castle, the seat of the Riigikogu.
Toompea Castle, the seat of the Riigikogu. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Estonia's political parties are working on their campaign platforms and party lists for the Riigikogu elections on 3 March next year. While nobody seems keen to talk about their plans in more detail, the parties' general directions are becoming clearer. The campaign is expected to enter its hot phase in autumn, five or six months before the elections.

Estonia's political parties are working on their campaign platforms and party lists for the Riigikogu elections on 3 March next year. While nobody seems keen to talk about their plans in more detail, the parties' general directions are becoming clearer. The campaign is expected to enter its hot phase in autumn, five or six months before the elections.

Centre Party: More money for pensioners, keeping young people in Estonia

The Centre Party, with its chairman Jüri Ratas leading the current government coalition of Centre, the Social Democrats, and Pro Patria/Isamaa, has identified the Reform Party as their number one competitor—nothing new there, ERR's "Aktuaalne kaamera" newscast reported on Wednesday evening.

The party can be expected to cater to its main demographic just as it did in previous elections, including Russian speakers and pensioners. According to Tanel Kiik, in charge of the prime minister's office as well as the Centre Party's work group putting together its campaign platform, the party's proposal to raise pensions by €100 along with making care home placement more easily available will be a core point, along with measures to keep young people interested in staying in Estonia rather than moving elsewhere.

"All parties will put their cards on the table one at a time in autumn and winter, when they start confirming their campaign platforms. That's when a bigger debate about them will follow as well. The parties' goals are often more or less the same, but the means to achieve them, they often differ a lot," Kiik told ERR.

Reform Party: More money for everybody, change current tax system

Reform Party chairwoman Kaja Kallas told ERR that it will still be a while before the party introduces its platform in detail.

"By autumn we'll be able to phrase our topics in such a way to make it clear what we think is important. But if I had to say right now, I'd say raising people's incomes," Kallas said.

Other important issues include changing the current tax system, and doing something about the queues in Estonia's health care system. The party has repeatedly complained that the current government's adjustment to income tax have made the system "too complicated"—at the same time, the party has also said that it will not go back on Ratas' changes to tax-free income shares.

Social Democrats: Reduce poverty, fund for young people, care home places

Just like the other junior partner in the current coalition, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) for months has performed badly in approval ratings. Though of no immediate political importance, the ratings are a monthly ritual of the Estonian media in which both Ratas' left and right-wing partners recently have not looked good.

Talking about SDE's plans for the election campaign, party chairman, Jevgeni Ossinovski mentions reducing poverty, making care home placements more easily available, and introducing a fund to invest in the future of young Estonians.

As Ossinovski also made clear in an interview with ERR's Indrek Kiisler on Wednesday (see "Related news" below this article), he thinks that in March next year the choice facing voters is about the world view of the next parliament and government.

"I think in the next elections voters have a clearer political choice, and on the other hand I also think that this is more important this time, because where the opinion was earlier that all parties are more or less the same, this has changed completely," Ossinovski said.

Pro Patria: Labour issues, tax policy, security

Much like SDE, Pro Patria has struggled with the effects of its low ratings for months, at times going along with coalition policy, other times frantically trying to find a way that differs from the government's course.

According to party chairman, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Pro Patria is likely going to focus on labour, tax, and security. In his comment on campaign platforms, Seeder suggests the other parties are looking for popular issues rather than trying to solve actual problems.

"[Our] topics are straight out of everyday life, they aren't artificially thought up and artificially pushed or overinflated by parties and politicians," Seeder told "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Seeder also said that at this point Estonia is developed enough as a society to make single-issue parties unnecessary. A more wholistic world view should dominate the debate, he thinks.

The next Riigikogu elections are taking place on 3 March 2019.

Editor: Dario Cavegn



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