Does it ever seem to you like Estonia's politics are controlled by a handful of powerful individuals, yet at the same time there is an impressive "back bench" of political players that never seem to rise to the top?
It does to me. For some time now Estonia has been dominated by three men, Mart Laar, who recently assumed the helm of the union of Res Publica and Isamaaliit, Edgar Savisaar, the focal point of Keskerakond, and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, who stepped into the vaccuum left by Siim Kallas when he moved to Brussels. With the exception of Ansip, both Laar and Savisaar go back at least 15 years in Estonian politics, and it is highly likely that both could regain control of the country several times before the retire.
But what of the other politicians with promise? Are they destined to play a game of musical ministerial chairs ad infinitum? I have to say I was a bit disappointed that Jaak Aaviksoo, the former rector of Tartu University, did not assume the helm of the IRL, when the parties merged earlier this year. I fully understand that Laar - who has had plenty of experience in politics - may have been the more pragmatic choice, but at the same time I was hungry for new blood as I am sure most people are.
And I wonder if a change in party leadership, if Rein Lang, for example, became head of the Reform Party, or if Siiri Oviir ran Keskerakond, would make a difference. Perhaps we would have a better idea about what exactly these parties stand for, beyond who leads them. It is my personal hope that the elections of 2007 will shake the Estonian political process up a bit. I welcome the Rohelised and whatever defections they might bring from parties as diverse as IRL and Eestimaa Rahvaliit. Hopefully a new balance can be achieved that moves beyond the current electoral see-saw.