EKRE platform: Lower taxes, fewer abortions, get a billion dollars from US

EKRE chairman Mart Helme.
EKRE chairman Mart Helme. Source: Aurelia Minev/ERR

The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) introduced its election platform on Saturday. Beyond the usual anti-immigration and social conservative message, the party has crow-barred a broad selection of popularly debated issues into its platform, ranging from stopping Rail Baltica to building motorways, a demand for fewer abortions and writing a conservative definition of marriage into the constitution. And it wants a billion dollars from the United States.

Lower VAT and excise tax, incentives for living in the country, kill Rail Baltica

The party's platform for the upcoming general election on 3 March also includes reducing fuel and alcohol excise duties to a rate that it claims would bring "lost" turnover and tax back to Estonia where Estonian residents are currently crossing the border to shop in Latvia.

EKRE also says it will reduce the rate of value-added tax (VAT) to 15%, which it expects to significantly boost the economy and leave people with more money. The party also wants to turn Estonia into the country with the cheapest energy in the region, namely by reducing gas and electricity excise duties, electricity network fees and renewable energy fees.

Adding to this, EKRE would introduce tax incentives to promote life in Estonia's rural areas. In public procurements, Estonian companies based on Estonian capital are to be preferred over others, thus supporting local businesses as well.

Another campaign promise, tapping into the very emotional and often aimless debate surrounding the infrastructure project, is to put an end to Rail Baltica. Instead, the party wants to see a "quality" railway connection to the rest of Europe built that makes use of existing routes as far as possible, and also invest in overhauling Estonia's other railway tracks.

High-earning foreigners exempt from quota, no more refugees

EKRE also said it would exempt the temporary employment of people earning at least three times the average salary from the immigration quota.

The party's course against what it has called mass immigration continues with the promise to stop accepting quota refugees sent here by the European Commission, and to deport all those who are here illegally. EKRE also wants to introduce a naturalisation quota at no more than 0.2% of the number of new citizens born as Estonians per year.

Shorter queues, boost pensions to €800, throw out Registered Partnership Act

The party said in its election program that it would establish the term of marriage in the Constitution as a union between man and woman. EKRE also reiterated that it stands for "traditional" family values, and thus will throw out the Registered Partnership Act and forbid same-sex couples from adopting children.

In other social aspects of society, EKRE wants to improve the funding of healthcare, ensure short queues and high-quality medical care also in smaller hospitals and health centres. The party said it will carry out a healthcare funding reform, as a result of which long queues will disappear.

EKRE also wants to lessen the burden of emergency medicine providers as well as what it sees as irrationally excessive spending, directing more funds towards the better functioning of the family doctor system. The party will also aim to reduce the number of abortions without medical justification by various means, including the question who has to cover the cost of an abortion, the Baltic News Service wrote.

Teach integrity, ethics, "Estonian-mindedness" and "rational global awareness"

In education, the party promises it will turn the school system into one based on the Estonian language and teach integrity, ethics, Estonian-mindedness and a rational global awareness.

This includes making the country's school Estonian only, and enforcing a broader use of Estonian at universities as well. Estonia's vocational and university education policy is to be adapted to the needs of the Estonian labour market. In terms of research and development, the party's aim is investment amounting to 2% of Estonia's gross domestic product (GDP).

"Fair society" including referendums and direct election of president

EKRE's election platform also calls for the introduction of the referendum as well as a "fair election system". Both will "strengthen democracy", EKRE believes. The platform also wants to revisit the way the courts are organised, and "protect the Estonian people" from what EKRE sees as the whims of officials.

The citizens as the bearers of supreme power in the state will get direct instruments to contribute to political decisions, EKRE promises. This includes electing the president directly.

Europe of nation states, moving closer to Poland and Hungary

The party also said it supports a Europe of nation states. To that end, EKRE will cooperate with European countries sharing similar values to those of the party, and stand against what it sees as the federalisation of the European Union.

EKRE is also against the indiscriminate adoption of EU directives and will not implement regulations and directives violating Estonia's "sovereignty and constitutional principles".

Estonia's foreign policy, according to EKRE, should not only strengthen transatlantic relations, but also work to establish a regional strategic alliance in Central and Eastern Europe.

Concerning the border with Russia, EKRE wants to throw out the still not ratified border agreement and demands the return of Petseri County as well as the area immediately beyond Narva. It also demands reparations to be paid for the damage done by what it sees as the continued occupation of those areas.

The party also said it will review Estonia's memberships of international organisations and only continue those that actually promote Estonia's interests as the party sees them. EKRE also wants to rule out Estonia's membership in any such organisation that does not have a procedure or option for the withdrawal of a member in place.

Militarise the border, get a billion dollars from America

EKRE wants to introduce a total defence concept and, among other things, bring the technological level of equipment of the Defence League (Kaitseliit) to that of the Estonian Defence Forces.

The party's plans include a militarised border, better integration of national defence with civilian efforts and structures, and asking the United States for military aid in the amount of up to a billion dollars.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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