Opinion

Jõks: Does the president have the right to judge candidates for minister?

17.04.19 ... In a parliamentary state, the president is not involved in the formation of a government, which is why they generally lack the right to reject a candidate for minister in connection with, for example, political convictions, writes attorney and former Chancellor of Justice Allar Jõks.

Toomas Sildam: New government won't be easy for Ratas either

15.04.19 ... While Kaja Kallas, chairwoman of the Riigikogu election-winning Reform Party, won't receive the support of the Riigikogu for the formation of a government on 15 April, it won't be easy for continuing Prime Minister Jüri Ratas either, who is on shaky ground with several of the candidates for minister in his new government and has the president staring him down no less, writes journalist Toomas Sildam.

Opinion: If ERR goes down, the rest of the free media drowns with it

10.04.19 ... Erkki Bahovski, Editor-in-Chief of Diplomaatia, newsletter of the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), has argued in an opinion piece on daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) that, while recent attacks on public broadcaster ERR are nothing new, their scope and somewhat brazen nature is a notable development. Nonetheless, there are plenty of lessons to be learned, and the broadcaster can simply dig in and weather the storm, he says.

Digest: Proposed coalition meets with more criticism, and some praise

09.04.19 ... Comment on the proposed coalition government of the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa has continued, following the signing of the agreement, in front of the media, by the three party leaders on Monday.

Digest: Comment on Centre, EKRE, Isamaa agreement mainly negative

08.04.19 ... Daily Päevaleht summed up the general feeling about the coalition agreement between the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa: while it remains vague on all the issues that matter, it promotes specific ideas only where its signatories' egos and cranks are concerned and is otherwise entirely devoid of new ideas. Meanwhile a range of policies previously taken for granted, from EU relations to social cohesion and equal treatment, are seen as immediately threatened if this government should be confirmed.

Opinion: Ratas-led talks could see him return as premier even without EKRE

04.04.19 ... As of Thursday, 4 April, coalition discussions between the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa have gone all the way to the Riigikogu, as, for many people, disbelief transformed into bemused resignation. Is this lineup, then, going to find itself in the Stenbock House, the seat of the government, or is it all part of a strategy on the part of the two biggest parties, Reform and Centre? Whatever the outcome, it's looking like the political coming of age of Jüri Ratas, who has staked his reputation on the talks and seems to be winning.

Opinion: Is ERR truly surrounded and facing censorship?

03.04.19 ... Taxpayer-funded media is easiest to pressure by claiming that in a democratic state, the public broadcaster must be under the control of the representatives of the people, writes former Chancellor of Justice Allar Jõks.

Rein Raud: Isamaa, Centre faced with classic prisoner's dilemma

01.04.19 ... It seems to me as though, taking things rationally, the prisoner's dilemma facing both the Centre Party and Isamaa has gone so far that, contrary to the beliefs of some analysts, it would be rational to instead start taking bets on which of the two parties will back out of the current coalition talks first in order to stave off the birth of the most unpopular and incompetent government in the history of the reindependent Estonia, writes Rein Raud.

Opinion: How to really plan for, and go about, pension reform

28.03.19 ... Pension reform is one of the topics on the table with coalition discussions of any hue. The system as it exists is set up in three stages, called ''pillars''. The first pillar is the state pay-as-you-go contributory pension, the second is the mandatory funded pension with personal pension accounts, and the third is an additional, voluntary pension a person might make via private schemes.

Opinion: Will the current coalition talks reach their limit?

26.03.19 ... As we enter the third week of the coalition talks, ERR's senior political editor, Toomas Sildam, takes stock of what has transpired so far, whether and how the discussions have a time limit, and how potential cracks in the EKRE-KEI proposed coalition could show up right from the get-go.

Opinion: Kõigi Eesti – the ice bucket challenge of our times?

25.03.19 ... Some years ago, a social media global viral campaign appeared, known as the ice bucket challenge. This involved people being filmed getting deluged, or deluging themselves, in quantities of icey water, accompanied by groans, shrieks and expletives. With the snowballing of the Kõigi Eesti movement, running at around 27,000 fans at the time of writing, are we seeing Estonia's ice bucket challenge moment?

Continuing din surrounding EKRE not bringing any real change

22.03.19 ... In the latest approval ratings commissioned by ERR, the Reform Party leads with 27%, followed by the Centre Party 3 percentage points behind at 24%. This means that in real terms, the outcry the inclusion of EKRE in the current preliminary coalition talks has caused has barely made a dent. Compared to March 2018 polling data, the change is minimal — and there are other signs that indeed very little has changed or is changing in Estonian politics.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves on the Estonia we want and ask others to defend

19.03.19 ... How can we defend Estonia without becoming self-absorbed and without pushing aside those who are different? In a situation where others protect Estonia, and thus treat us as their own, we have to ask ourselves who our own are, the ones that we protect, writes former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Opinion digest: Helme not just useful idiot, but pathological liar too

15.03.19 ... In an opinion piece published by daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) last summer, politician Margus Tsahkna called Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman Mart Helme a "useful idiot" for Russia. Mart Laar, Estonia's popular two-time prime minister from the 90s, affirmed in a followup piece first published likewise last summer that not only is Mr Helme a useful idiot, but a pathological liar to boot.

Opinion: Estonia not about to join Poland, Hungary

14.03.19 ... Don't cry, it's only politics: this week's bedlam surrounding the supposed right-wing takeover of Estonia is proving to be so much hot air. What is happening, contrary to the impression created by an army of social media armchair warriors, is nothing much more than run-of-the-mill post-election politics.

Centre-EKRE talks: Ligi characteristically terse, Kaljulaid Shakespearean

14.03.19 ... The ongoing coalition talks between the Centre Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, have drawn plenty of relevant comment from those with skin in the game. Big hitters from both Centre and Reform, the party which won the most seats at the election on 3 March but which currently finds itself in the cold, had their views set out in daily Postimees.

Mikk Pärnits: Less protecting language, more chances for understanding

13.03.19 ... "Language is flowers on the manure pile of understanding, if one may wax so poetic," writes author and journalist Mikk Pärnits ahead of Native Language Day, stressing the importance of slang and foreign influences to language in noting the fact that, when free to do so, a language develops to benefit its speaker, enhancing speakers' ability to understand one another.

Opinion: The ski doping case and ethical choices in sport

13.03.19 ... The principles of ethics in sport are clearly set out in the Estonian Sports Charter, and therefore sportspeople involved in the recent doping scandal cannot plead ignorance of the rights and wrongs of sporting activity, says Joe Noormets, lecturer in sports sociology at Tallinn University (TLÜ).

Opinion: Centre should be happy things didn't go worse in Ida-Viru County

11.03.19 ... The latest Riigikogu elections demonstrated that the Centre party has lost significant ground in Ida-Viru County, its old stronghold, and in connection with its top candidates in the electoral district, ERR Narva correspondent Rene Kundla said on Vikerraadio on Monday.

Opinion: March 1944 Tallinn bombing anniversary dignified commemoration

09.03.19 ... Saturday saw the 75th anniversary of the March attack on Tallinn by Soviet bomber planes. An installation entitled ''Images of Memory'' in Tallinn's Freedom Square, drawing on materials from the city archive and the Tallinn City Museum, under the direction of Loone Ots and presented by Anne Velt, featuring performances by actors Liis Haab, Katrin Valkna, Iivi Lepik, Tarvo Krall and funded by the city government, took place in the capital (see gallery above).

Mikser: Centre likely less interested in two-party coalition than Reform

06.03.19 ... While concessions would come relatively easy to Reform, the Centre Party stands to lose a lot. Reform's much more pronounced anti-Russian rhetoric would likely cost junior partner Centre even more votes, and make it harder to defend its position in Tallinn in the next local elections in 2021.

Opinion: Twelve things we learned from the general election

05.03.19 ... Sunday's election saw victory for the Reform Party, and presumed Prime-Minister-in-Waiting Kaja Kallas. The next few weeks will see coalition talks with three of the four other parties that got Riigikogu seats (Reform itself has ruled out the Conservative People's Party of Estonia, or EKRE), after which we have another election following — the European Parliament elections in late May. Here are some things the general election showed us.

Opinion: Reform wins thanks to superior campaign tactics

04.03.19 ... Yesterday's election serves as a practical reminder of the fact that voters tend to be emotional rather than rational, and that reason and common sense don't enter into politics. The Reform Party has once again proven to be perfectly aware of this — and capable of using it to its advantage to win a well-deserved victory.

Opinion: Centre Party dropped the ball

04.03.19 ... What happened last night? I had said Centre were going to do it. My colleague thought the same, though with different permutations on what form the next coalition would take. Even three of the four ERR political journalist heavyweights over on Vikerraadio called it for Centre. Yet once the full picture of the e-vote came in, at about 20.00, it became clear that Reform had a massive lead, something which Centre never really recovered from, in the way it had in 2015. In trying to pick up the pieces, it might be easiest to explain why Centre lost.

Editor's prediction: Status quo remains after election

03.03.19 ... I'm going to play it safe and say that the coalition after the current election will consist of the same parties as it does currently.

Editor's prediction: Centre to win, form next government with Reform Party

02.03.19 ... Time to risk a prediction, although the exact amount of risk involved might not be entirely scary: the Centre Party will win the election by a few mandates, enter difficult but successful coalition negotiations with its former arch-enemy, and eventually form a new government with the Reform Party.

General election day on Sunday: Reminder

01.03.19 ... With the ski doping scandal which dominated the news from Wednesday afternoon, there is a danger of forgetting that Sunday is general election day in Estonia.

Opinion: Estonia world champion in governance?

25.02.19 ... Recent in-depth analysis of the costs of the election manifesto promises of all the political parties in Estonia revealed proposals which would cost money vastly exceeded those which would bring in revenue. Whilst this was not surprising, writes Rauno Vinni, many political parties have also offered a reduction in bureaucracy and cutting back of officialdom. But would such state reform actually help to solve the shortage of resources? There is a strange paradox where reducing bureaucracy actually costs money, making it difficult to afford to reduce said bureaucracy.

Opinion: There is nothing patriotic about fake news

13.02.19 ... It turns out that it was all made up. The two Estonian men attacking a foreign woman in Tallinn, throwing rocks at her and her dog, shouting "Go home, foreigner", in English. Founder and CEO of Jobbatical Karoli Hindriks, once she heard the story from someone she refers to as a friend, took the chance to write a lengthy post reporting the case and addressing how "Estonia has become angry", an unfriendly place towards foreigners who come here to work, contribute to our economy, and pay taxes.

Opinion: Kohtla-Järve school case should be cause for national concern

18.02.19 ... Education minister Mailis Reps (Centre) has to understand the game she is playing regarding the Kohtla-Järve Upper Secondary school and the language of instruction there, according to a Postimees opinion piece, an episode which highlights tensions within the Centre Party, its behaviour towards the local Estonian community in Kohtla-Järve, and the party leadership's concern in avoiding anything which could harm its election chances.

Erik Gamzejev: The Ida-Viru hostages of 21st Century municipal politics

14.02.19 ... The situation in Ida-Viru County's towns and cities would have long since been in better shape were it not hobbled by municipal politics dedicated not to the development of these towns, but to the maintaining of an iron grip on power by local clans, says Erik Gamzejev, editor-in-chief of regional paper Põhjarannik, in commentary provided to Vikerraadio.

Toomas Sildam: Are Estonian political parties criminal? No

12.02.19 ... Should people who have previously been punished for minor criminal offences be barred from joining political parties in Estonia? Journalist Toomas Sildam doesn't think so.

Opinion: Election English debates hardly perfect, but set healthy precedent

09.02.19 ... This week saw two political debates in English between representatives of all the major political parties, and most of the minor ones. This might set a good precedent for Estonia and provide an example to other European nations, and seems to have gone down well with viewers in the audience and online. There are some caveats and limitations too, however.

Opinion: Unravelling the Brexit conundrum

30.01.19 ... So the brakes are well and truly off Brexit juggernaut as it continues its unopposed trundle down the slope to god knows. The speed humps of the much raked-over up Irish backstop won't stop it, and nor will anything else at this late stage. All we can hope is there isn't a primary school at the bottom of the hill for it to go crashing into, which there won't be, of course.

Opinion: Annual state decoration awardees often resemble their awarders

30.01.19 ... Without taking anything away from the role of the President of Estonia and her team, the annual list of recipients of the highest awards Estonia can bestow, tends to resemble those who are giving out the award; however, this means we can all have an influence on future lists, writes ERR's Toomas Sildam.

Opinion | Everyday life for Estonian sexual minorities: Beating and threats

28.01.19 ... At the beginning of January, I compiled an annual overview for the Estonian LGBT+ Association, on issues that people came to me for through the course of 2018. The picture was shocking, writes the LGBT+ advocacy group's expert and lawyer, Aili Kala.

Opinion digest: Estonians have to find their self-confidence

24.01.19 ... The citizenship issue isn't worth getting bogged down in when there is a more important issue to be addressed in connection with integration in Estonian society, writes Sergei Metlev of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory in an opinion piece published by daily Postimees.

Jüri Adams: Why I'm not running, or MP as an obedient slave

23.01.19 ... Work in the XIII Riigikogu has been frustrating and almost entirely fruitless, and appears to have been rather an ineffectual waste of time, writes veteran politician Jüri Adams.

Marju Himma: Playing with lies limits young nationalists' freedom of speech

22.01.19 ... Deliberately lying to the public and posing under a fake name taught young nationalists a lesson — that playing with lies limits their own freedom of speech and sends voters a message that they are liars and violent, found Marju Himma.

Reform-Centre coalition still best option, says former Reform member

22.01.19 ... A Reform Party and Centre Party coalition would be the most sensible option to arise from the March general election, and in fact should have been done following the previous election in 2015, says former Reform member Neinar Seli.

Opinion: Estonian language initiatives great, but will they work out?

18.01.19 ... The recent opening of the very admirable and very well-meaning Estonian Language House in Tallinn is another step in the phasing in of a much more proactive approach to Estonian and getting foreigners to speak it properly. But is the trend wholly helpful and will it bring results? After all, as people sometimes like to say, ''there have been people living here for 50 years who can't speak a word of Estonian''. If that is so, why will it be different this time?

Opinion: A challenging year awaits Estonia and the EU

15.01.19 ... The European Union (EU) faces a complicated year, writes Taavi Toom of Estonia 200, much harder than the previous year. In addition to the European Parliamentary elections in May, which will put the future of European cooperation to the test, elections of the heads of no less than five major EU institutions, plus the presidents of six Member States, as well as seven parliamentary elections, including Estonia's in March, are also likely to influence the direction and atmosphere of future cooperation.

Opinion: Poster campaign non-story in itself, but could prove watershed

10.01.19 ... This week's headlines have been dominated by a poster campaign supposed to highlight the ongoing divided society existing in Estonia, ie the split between Estonians and the Russian-speaking minority. This has been something of a storm in an eggcup, however, and won't make much of an impact on polling day in March, assuming that was even its intention.

Mari-Liis Jakobson: 2018 in some ways a political throwback

28.12.18 ... Many Estonians' most civilly active years date back to the era of the restoration of Estonian independence around 1991. Many, however, seemed to relive these glory days in 2018, political scientist Mari-Liis Jakobson found in an opinion piece reflecting on politics over the past year.

Katri Raik: Estonianness needs to be ensured in Ida-Viru County

27.12.18 ... A joint state upper secondary school for Estonian and Russian children will not lead to the end of Estonianness, at least not if changes in education have been discussed with the community and the preservation and development of the Estonian language ensured. Currently, however, both the city government and the state have some unfinished work left, found Minister of the Interior Katri Raik (SDE).

Digest: Justice dispensed by courts, not deep state

24.12.18 ... Commenting on the Supreme Court's decision to end the criminal proceedings against former long-time Centre Party chairman Edgar Savisaar, ERR's Toomas Sildam writes that justice in Estonia isn't in the hands of a few select officials, as some suggest, but dispensed by the courts.

Anti-vaccine book tied to politicians pulled from shelves in Estonia

24.12.18 ... An Estonian translation of the Italian book "Vaccines: Yes or No?" was published in mid-December. The book includes a slew of claims considered questionable by scientists, which is why it attracted a lot of complaints and retail bookstore chain Rahva Raamat pulled the Estonian-language translation of the book from its shelves. Those involved in the publishing of the book and their supporters, however, have clearly expressed their outrage, and are continuing to sell the book elsewhere, including at Apollo bookstores and online.

Opinion: SDE candidate lists see biggest changes, Pro Patria most battered

18.12.18 ... Political parties' candidate lists for the 2019 Riigikogu elections have been locked down for the most part. Uku Toom of ERR's radio news takes a look at how much parties' top picks have changed since the previous elections four years ago.

Sildam: What will Pro Patria do after losing the migration compact battle?

17.12.18 ... Pro Patria's opposition to the UN Global Compact for Migration will not prevent Estonia from joining it, leaving the party as a member of the ruling coalition with a choice — to either swallow the loss, or issue a no-confidence motion against Social Democratic Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser and resign from the government, writes journalist Toomas Sildam.

Opinion: Russian hybrid war has already reached peak in Estonia

04.12.18 ... While everybody's attention is focused on the recent military attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, important strategic interventions are happening elsewhere. Russia is firmly expanding its influence in the Western Hemisphere by leading a hybrid war that the West is failing to counter.
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