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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
29.11.18 ... If the recent governmental crisis has revealed anything, it is this: The government is not in crisis at all, but rather actually somewhat in control of the situation. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) emerged no worse for the episode, maintaining a detachment that wrong-footed more than a few people who interpreted it as indecisiveness or even the dreaded "weakness," whatever that means.
28.11.18 ... Refugees and, politely speaking, "family values" are issues that can win votes in Narva, but in order to do so, Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman Mart Helme would have to visit Narva himself, as he is likely the only national conservative who knows how to speak to the Russians, Jüri Nikolajev said in a comment on ERR's radio news.
27.11.18 ... In an opinion piece published in daily Postimees, Kalev Stoicescu, research fellow at the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), recalled a televised event where Russian President Vladimir Putin said that "Russia's border doesn't end anywhere." He made clear that this was a joke, but recent events in the Kerch Strait have once again demonstrated that in reality, he wasn't joking at all.
26.11.18 ... Speaking on the Vikerraadio broadcast "Samost and Sildam," journalists Anvar Samost and Toomas Sildam said that when it comes to the Riigikogu discussion regarding the UN Global Compact on Migration scheduled to begin at 10:00 EET on Monday, the positions of the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and coalition Pro Patria (Isamaa) are easiest to predict. The opposition Reform, however, is currently harder to pin down.
25.11.18 ... Pushing the government to the brink of collapse, Pro Patria is hoping to position itself more to the political right to regain votes it has lost to EKRE over the past few years. This not only puts Estonia's successful foreign policy of the last 25 years at risk, but will likely cost the country the non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for which it has been campaigning.
25.11.18 ... The leading opposition party is going through a crisis of its own. Incapable of using the current government deadlock to its advantage, there are more and more signs that the showdown before the 3 March general election will see Reform return to an all too familiar theme: the Centre Party's perceived proximity to Vladimir Putin's Russia.
12.11.18 ... The design of Enterprise Estonia's national branding toolbox won in the "Best Use of Design" category at the 2018 City Nation Place Awards in London last Thursday. One can't help but think that more might have been possible: Peter Kentie, whose EST concept Enterprise Estonia initially rejected and later on casually buried in its own material, won "Place Brand of the Year" with his work for Eindhoven, taking home the competition's main award.
12.11.18 ... Politics can get drab, even depressing. So you would think that new drive and new faces are always welcome. But when Olympic champions and famous actors sign up and get catapulted to the top of parties' lists, it gets hard to ignore the political opportunism, ERR's Toomas Sildam writes.
06.11.18 ... The effects of making participation in the currently mandatory second pension pillar voluntary would be much greater than they would initially appear, writes entrepreneur Indrek Neivelt.
05.11.18 ... Last Wednesday, Theatre NO99 announced that it would be closing its doors. It was unexpected news for everyone: the media, the Ministry of Culture and theatre fans alike. Quickly overshadowed as a result was the event of the day at another one of Estonia's most important avant-garde theatres: the 25th anniversary of Von Krahl Theatre, writes Valner Valme, managing editor of ERR's online culture portal.
04.11.18 ... Back in 1978, a Scottish banker was walking the streets of London when he noticed an unusual blue, black and white flag fluttering in the wind. James Oates had a deep interest in vexillology, the study of flags, yet he'd never seen this one before so he knocked on the door of the building to find out more. Fate had brought him to 167 Queen's Gate, which was home to the Estonian Legation - a de facto Embassy for an almost forgotten Republic called Estonia.