Political movement Estonia 200 at a general meeting on Saturday voted to establish themselves as a political party and take part in the 2019 Riigikogu elections next March with a full list of candidates. Kristina Kallas was elected chairwoman of the party.
"Estonia 200 is a party that brings together specialists of their own fields and people who are not satisfied with only short-term political promises, but want to realise long-term decisions," Priit Alamäe, one of the founders of the new political party, said in a press release on Saturday. "We are not held down by the constraints of political science and the burden of the past. We are brave enough to speak about big changes because we believe that there is a great number of people in Estonia who want and are able to understand that Estonia needs them badly."
According to the party, Estonia 200's objective is to promote Estonian life and plan long-term policies that would ensure the preservation of the Estonian language and culture, economic prosperity as well as a secure and quality living environment for those that live in Estonia. The party's activity will be based on the values of personal freedom, ambition, transparency, responsibility, trust, openness, innovation and Estonian-mindedness.
Estonia 200 first published its manifesto this May. As of its establishment as a political party on 3 November, Estonia 200 has 543 members.
Niinepuu: State cannot be surrendered to career politicians
"The state of Estonia is the joint responsibility of all of its citizens, and the Riigikogu is the first line of defence against stupid decisions," said Meelis Niinepuu, head of Estonia 200's programme committee. "In order to realise changes important to Estonia, people have to participate in politics like they did in the 1990s. We cannot surrender our country to career politicians who are running for the Riigikogu for the third or fourth time in a row."
This stance also serves as the core of the party's programme, titled "Winds of Change," as well as formulates the party's principle values and views. Over the next few weeks, the party will also draw up a campaign platform for the 2019 Riigikogu elections.
Estonia 200 is a party of change, according to its programme, which also lists significant themes such as the state reform, abolishing inequality in education, and the reform of healthcare and social services.
"Estonia's success in the future depends on the ability to respond to important trends upon noticing them already, not retrospectively," Niinepuu said. "Our economy must be made smarter, our people healthier and happier, our natural environment cleaner. Estonia 200 is currently the only party that is prepared to assume a long-term view in shaping Estonia's future; the rest are all dealing with the next four years, and that is extremely short-sighted."
Kristina Kallas elected party chair
In a speech at the general meeting, Kristina Kallas, who ran for chairperson of the party, said that brave steps must be taken to ensure that Estonia's success continues.
"The existing parties — which, by the way, have become increasingly more similar to each other — have not inspired me," Kallas said. "They have not instilled in me belief in progressive powers, teams or movements that want to lead a 21st century country with new ideas. Politics has become a political science job."
Estonia 200 has not entered the political arena to join a fight with election promises in the name of securing jobs, she said; Estonia 200 has been established by citizens who have set aside their day jobs for a moment in order to guide Estonia in the direction of change.
"Due to their historical experience, Estonians have been self-preserving and restrained, but we have been very brave in decisive moments," Kallas said. "It is once again time that we be brave and make brave decisions. Estonia 200 has entered Estonian politics to be the one to bravely initiate change."
Kallas was elected chairwoman of the party with 177 votes on Saturday evening.
Priit Alamäe, Kadri Haller-Kikkatalo, Pirko Konsa, Margarita Källo, Lauri Luht, Nikita Lumijõe, Meelis Niinepuu, Liina Normet, Igor Taro, Margus Tsahkna, Kristiina Tõnnisson and Tiit Elenurm were elected members of the party board.
Marko Nummert, Indrek Nuume, Piret-Ireen Raidmets were elected to the party's audit committee.
Editor: Aili Vahtla