Pro Patria introduces campaign platform, sets out to compete with EKRE

Pro Patria introduced its campaign platform on Tuesday.
Pro Patria introduced its campaign platform on Tuesday. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Pro Patria introduced its campaign platform on Tuesday, emphasising the party's stance on pensions as well as its focus on a nationalist agenda, in line with other recent efforts to mobilise against the threat to its voter share that is the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE). Other points include raising the income tax exemption for families as well as what the party refers to as a "tax peace" for the coming four years.

Chasing after EKRE

Though Pro Patria's chairman, Helir-Valdor Seeder, invoked the memory of the party's precursors and their role in Estonia's nation-building efforts in the 1990s, the platform is a testament to the growing influence of EKRE, who have become Pro Patria's main competitor and long beaten them in the opinion polls.

Thus Pro Patria's recently increasingly right-wing rhetoric is reflected in the campaign platform as well, with nationalist policies and family values taking a prominent role.

This includes the preservation of the Estonian language and culture as well as the changeover to an education system based exclusively on Estonian-language instruction, which it believes will promote the cohesion of Estonian society in the long run and improve the situation particularly of the younger Russian-speaking population.

More money for families

It also includes family values: as Mr Seeder sees it, there can be no preservation of Estonia without consistent support of its families. This is why the party's platform calls for an increase of the state support of families, starting with €100 a month for the first, €200 for the second, and €300 a month starting from the third child, paid out as direct benefits.

At the same time, every family with at least three children will get an income tax exemption of at least €600, if Pro Patria get their way, and child benefits get pegged to inflation to keep up with rising or falling purchase power.

Do away with the Registered Partnership Act, write marriage into constitution

From there on in, Pro Patria moves on straight to that other side of the family values issue, namely how to treat the matter of romantic relationships.

Following EKRE's example, the party calls for an amendment of the constitution to specify marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and wants to throw out the Registered Partnership Act (the implementation provisions for which are still pending approval by the Riigikogu at the time of writing) that recognises same-sex couples before the law.

Estonian to be given preference over English at universities

The change Pro Patria wants to make in the way higher education institutions are funded includes giving clear preference to Estonian-language curriculums. As the party sees it, promoting the use of Estonian at universities (or, rather, keeping English from intruding further) is a necessary move at this point.

This concerns foreign talent to be hired for teaching and instruction positions at Estonian schools, which Pro Patria want to see cramming Estonian and become fluent in it as soon as possible. The inevitable supervision of the state of the sciences that would result is a chance rather than an issue, Pro Patria finds, as different from today, education institutions would have the undivided attention of the state.

Second pillar voluntary, no new taxes

The party's platform reiterates that it would make the second pillar of Estonia's pension system voluntary, giving people what it sees as greater freedom of choice and new possibilities to use their money to prepare for old age.

Everyone would have the right to choose whether or not to keep their money and invest it themselves, Mr Seeder said.

Despite having been part of the government also under Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) and thus itself at least in part responsible for the most recent modification of various taxes, Pro Patria is calling for what it refers to as a four-year "tax peace", and taking a stance against further tax hikes, no matter where.

On the contrary, lowering the tax burden on companies is a priority, starting with the social tax rate. The party also proposes the introduction of a tax exemption for profits earned through divesting a holding in a foreign subsidiary. This, it believes, would make Estonia an attractive location for the head offices of international corporations.

Spend 2.5% of GDP on national defence, promote will to defend Estonia

Concerning national defence, Pro Patria would like to see investment in the military and other aspects to be raised from NATO's aim of 2% of the gross domestic product (GDP) to 2.5%. This is enough to ensure Estonia's defensive capability in the long run, the party feels.

Focus points here include medium-range air defence and developing the capabilities of the Estonian Navy. The party also backs the transformation of NATO's Baltic air policing mission into an air defence mission.

In other areas of national defence, Pro Patria would like to increase the importance of the Defence League (Kaitseliit) and also envisions a network of "centres" to promote the defensive will of Estonia's young and also make sure there is a good basis of skills to be applied in cyberdefence in the future.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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