neljapäev, jaanuar 18, 2007

Looking for a way out ...

Well, things aren't that great between Estonia and its eastern neighbor these days. They are almost not "stable" as the Estonian Foreign Ministry purports them to be. Then again, that webpage was last updated on Nov. 21.

Taking a long hard look at this situation, I have to wonder -- why is it 2007 and Estonia and Russia's greatest argument is still what happened over 60 years ago? I don't wish to trivialize history, but a simple perusing of news items gives one this thought: is the Estonia of Skype, and voting online, and the flat tax the same Estonia as the one that's locked in a bitter row over fascism and other deceased 20th century ideologies?

There is no doubt that the rightwing parties - the Isamaa-Res Publica Union and the Reform Party, as well as the Social Democrats - benefit from heightened tension with Russia. And what is the alternative? Edgar Savisaar and the Center Party that has an agreement with United Russia? Yeah, right.

There is one party in Estonia that is actually new and doesn't boast a Savisaar or a Reiljan or a Mart Laar or an Andrus Ansip. Their guy is Marek Standberg and he likes to be photographed riding his bike. The Green Party's central issue - the environment - is a welcome addition to a debate which is about history and graves and tallying who killed who. On the flipside, I have heard that the Greens are also trying to posture as yet another "center-right" party. And that leaves again with the same old situation - there is no left wing party in Estonia.

The Center Party? Well, they're always at the center, you see. The Reform Party? They aren't done reforming. Isamaa? They love the fatherland. The Social Democrats? They have catchy slogans. For whom can a voter that happens to care about other things more than debating history with the nasty neighbor vote? I don't know. But I am getting really tired of discussing the 20th century. Thank God we're in a new one.

29 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...


is the Estonia of Skype, and voting online, and the flat tax the same Estonia as the one that's locked in a bitter row over fascism and other deceased 20th century ideologies?

I don't think Estonia is locked into anything. The row seems to be one sided coming from her eastern neighbour.

Giustino ütles ...

I don't think Estonia is locked into anything. The row seems to be one sided coming from her eastern neighbour.

The row is an extension of the continuous argument over Estonia's past that Estonian politicians always find ways to bring up with Moscow. If Estonia erected a huge statue to War of Independence fighters in central Tallinn, do you think the Russian Foreign Ministry would protest?

I think constantly referencing that war is the better bet if Estonians want to discuss the past with Moscow. It's good to remind them of how they lost and renounced claims to Estonia in perpetuity.

With regards to this mess, those confused gents in the Kremlin are still drinking Stalin-era kool-aid. If you watched Soviet, I mean Russian Federation TV all the time, you'd probably think the same way.

But I like the idea of a Green Party whose major issue has nothing to do with minority policies or sense issues on Estonian history, but is simply "the environment."

However, some people have been very cautious about this party. What's your take on it? That's what I'd like to know.

Martin ütles ...


But I like the idea of a Green Party whose major issue has nothing to do with minority policies or sense issues on Estonian history, but is simply "the environment."

Single issue parties cannot compete with the major parties since they lack a comprehensive policy platform, and this puts voters off.

Single issue parties will always be marginal, since the major parties can steal aspects of their policy and incorporate it into their own broader policy platform, bleeding them of their already small electoral support base.

kerho ukkonen ütles ...

I never voted for the Greens but, unlike any other "single issue party", they are for combating the most serious problem facing our species.

Also from that single issue all kinds of new economic ideas can be hatched, making the Greens look more like any other party with the strangle hold on being precieved as being the party that doesn't go for the business as usual. They are getting suprisingly strong support in Finland and Sweden and their sheer presence is effecting the behaviour of the "regular" parties that had to be dragged enviromentally on the right side.

Flasher T ütles ...

If Estonia erected a huge statue to War of Independence fighters in central Tallinn, do you think the Russian Foreign Ministry would protest?

Absolutely. Officially, the Russian Federation does not acknowledge the Tartu Peace Accord. Neither do the Russian people. I've spent a lot of time talking to proper Russians, trying to explain the perspective to them, but it's no use. I've actually had people ask me what the difference was between the Tartu treaty and the 1940 paper in which Estonia purportedly asked to join the USSR; and after I explained the difference between "you started shit, you got beaten, now let's end hostilities and establish borders" and "sign this paper or we'll shoot you and find someone else to sign it", they said that as far as they were concerned, there was no legal difference between the two papers.

When Russians are reminded that they lost in 1918-1920, they take it only as further proof that Estonia is theirs and they have the right to take it back.

Flasher T ütles ...

However, some people have been very cautious about this party. What's your take on it? That's what I'd like to know.

It's not viable. Estonia may be a model of progress, but it's not quite there yet. A strong environmentalist political force is a creature of the same blood as progressive income tax and welfare state; it can only come about once the society is secure enough financially and politically to start thinking about the good of everyone, not just the good of me.

Warren Buffet spent decades accumulating his billions before he realized he could afford to give most of them away, and would feel good about doing so.

You also have to remember that the Estonian implementation of proportional representation discourages minor players. This was intentional, to keep the radical fringe out of parliament, even though the first one after '91 had things like the Monarchist party. (Those guys were quite awesome, actually.) So while I agree that it would be beneficial to have a few Green MPs in the coalition, I don't think it's going to happen this March.

Flasher T ütles ...

Single issue parties cannot compete with the major parties since they lack a comprehensive policy platform, and this puts voters off.

I would agree, except for the fact that in Estonia, major parties also lack a comprehensive policy platform. :)

Erik ütles ...

I look forward to see how things will go for the Green Party here in Estonia. Also to see where it will position itself on the left-right scale (if there is one of thoose in Estonia). In my fatherland (Sweden) the Green party have gone from beeing a single issue party to beeing a party that has a much broader spectum of politics. Its still not a big party but its still around and it has for many years surely had infulence in the Swedish politics. Even though usually it refuses to define itself as a party that is either left or right, it has almost always sided with the centre/left alliance of the Social Democrats and the Left Party (former communist).
It will be interesting to see what will happen here at the brink of this green dawn.

plasma-jack ütles ...

But I like the idea of a Green Party whose major issue has nothing to do with minority policies or sense issues on Estonian history, but is simply "the environment."

However, some people have been very cautious about this party. What's your take on it? That's what I'd like to know.


I think they could get their 5 seats, if only thanks to Strandberg's popularity. I voted myself for him in the European elections when he was a single candidate and therefore had no real chance of getting in - just to give him courage to create this new party. He got a pretty neat bunch of votes back then and got the message, as we can see. I've always voted for Social Democrats but could'nt do that then - I was completely disgusted with Mikser's and Ilves's support for US war in Iraq and their blabbering about WMD-s.

Still, I'm not going to vote for Greens, although the frontmen of my favorite punkbands of my teenage years are also running in their ranks. [Hardi Volmer (lead singer of Singer Vinger) is in SDE anyway.] I think the guys have to prove their valor yet. So for me, leftie as I am, it's Social Democrats, yet again.

Giustino ütles ...

When Russians are reminded that they lost in 1918-1920, they take it only as further proof that Estonia is theirs and they have the right to take it back.

What are they smoking? Have you heard, the Russian Federation is the largest country in the world? That must be about the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Strandberg is a tool like Parts was during the last elections by more malevolent forces. Isamaaliit's downfall is this stupid merger with compromised people, and Marek is compromising himself HEAVILY by the people he has around him who are anything but roheline. This is a Trojan Horse.

Giustino ütles ...

Strandberg is a tool like Parts was during the last elections by more malevolent forces.

My abilities to read articles in Estonian are a bit odd. I can read some with little effort, but others are quite difficult to understand. For some reason, the Strandberg-related articles fall into the second category.

I am aware there is some connection between Strandberg and Savisaar. My question is this, if the elections are close, do you imagine that Savisaar could form a government with Rohelised, Rahvaliit, and maybe Sotsid? Other than ERL, what would a Savisaar government look like?

Anonüümne ütles ...

Havent SDE said that they won't go to government with KESK?

Giustino ütles ...

Havent SDE said that they won't go to government with KESK?

Well, there's saying, and then there's doing.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Havent SDE said that they won't go to government with KESK?

I believe Reform has said 3 times they won't go with KESK and we all know how that's gone.

As for Rohelised, I personally have met Strandberg on a number of occasions and gotten to know him a bit. While he's an intelligent man I would never vote for him, he's arrogant and a blow hard who loves to listen to his own voice, probably all the things that will make him a succesful politician. :)

Giustino ütles ...

Well, Ilves has said that if Savikas gets elected, Savikas gets elected. How ironic it would be to see Toomas summoning Edgar to Kadriorg to discuss the formation of a new government.

The last polls I saw showed a neck and neck race between the Reform and Center parties. That's why the Green's allegiance is so interesting:

http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/14362

Flasher T ütles ...

That must be about the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

Oh, quite. I do try to be as reasonable and objective as I can when talking to Russians (thankfully it's on a very rigorously moderated forum, where even the political discussions stay within boundaries), but it is quite mind-boggling. Not just about Estonia, either; you may have heard of the Russian oligarch arrested in Courchavel after the police found underage hookers at his party. This guy (http://exler.ru/blog/item/2029/ - Alex Exler, a very prominent personality in Russian webspace) mentions an article about the Moscow glamour circuit talking about how they're boycotting France this year in protest.

Flasher T ütles ...

That must be about the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

Oh, quite. I do try to be as reasonable and objective as I can when talking to Russians (thankfully it's on a very rigorously moderated forum, where even the political discussions stay within boundaries), but it is quite mind-boggling. Not just about Estonia, either; you may have heard of the Russian oligarch arrested in Courchavel after the police found underage hookers at his party. This guy (http://exler.ru/blog/item/2029/ - Alex Exler, a very prominent personality in Russian webspace) mentions an article about the Moscow glamour circuit talking about how they're boycotting France this year in protest.

Flasher T ütles ...

Strandberg is a tool like Parts was during the last elections

Heh. Heh-heh.

It's a very Beavis joke, but still funny. :)

Flasher T ütles ...

if the elections are close, do you imagine that Savisaar could form a government with Rohelised, Rahvaliit, and maybe Sotsid? Other than ERL, what would a Savisaar government look like?

Rahvaliit is dead for these elections. I'll be impressed with their damage control people if they manage to crawl over the watershed and get any seats at all.

Kesk and SD... not entirely out of the question, but in my opinion SD are having too much fun being in the opposition, and are still too scared of repeating their performance in the elections-before-last - when they had a significant number of seats, got into the coalition with real bargaining power and pissed it all away.

SD are probably the most emotional of the established parties (Isamaa may do more public performances, but for them it's in the service of ideology). The "anyone but Savisaar" sentiment should be quite strong with them.

Flasher T ütles ...

The last polls I saw showed a neck and neck race between the Reform and Center parties. That's why the Green's allegiance is so interesting

If Reform and Center get the same number of votes, Reform wins. Reform can do a coalition with anyone. For the Centrists, the only other party whose allegiance they have a hope for, is the Klensky List, and fortunately that's too preposterous even for Estonian politics.

Giustino ütles ...

For the Centrists, the only other party whose allegiance they have a hope for, is the Klensky List, and fortunately that's too preposterous even for Estonian politics.

When Klenksy addresses other politicians in Russian, in what language do they respond?

Anonüümne ütles ...

When Klenksy addresses other politicians in Russian, in what language do they respond?

Not in Russian (at least in public) - well, if they'll respond at all

Richie

Giustino ütles ...

Not in Russian (at least in public) - well, if they'll respond at all.

That situation is so weird for me. I have nothing to which I can relate it. I mean you would think that in a situation where the majority of people speak language A, you would speak language A.

See the Russian-speakers in Estonia have a dilemma because many of them also speak Estonian, and some of them marry Estonians and have Estonian-speaking kids, and well, they are basically Estonian too.

It's hard for the Russian foreign ministry, or even the pan-Russian nationalists in Estonia to say they stand for all of their compatriots, when compatriot X just married a guy named Margus and they have a tita named Maria.

It's a very funny, very politicized situation. But nature has its ways of dealing with these things in ways that governments have no powers over. People say Estonia is so small and weak but there is a center of cultural gravity there that can withstand anything - Teutonic knights, Vikings, Swedish barons, Russian tsars, goosestepping Nazis, goosestepping Communists. The Estonians just don't give up. :)

Giustino ütles ...

PS: by funny, I mean peculiar, not "ha ha" funny, my dear multi-ethnic Estonian friends.

rakamon ütles ...

but others are quite difficult to understand. For some reason, the Strandberg-related articles fall into the second category.

All kind of ideas come quicker to Strandberg, than he can articulate. The flagship of greens - energy policy, seems to be in a right course, but flaws in its body may prove fatal. The crew, not accustomed to team-work,falls into self dug hole, called direct democtracy (which has attracted quite some anarchists into the green party). Their social program - massive dotation for ecological homes divides the burden of housing loans between the taxpayers. I see no future for the greens with these preconditions. Ignoring them in these elections can maybe make them more constructive.

Anonüümne ütles ...

When Klenksy addresses other politicians in Russian, in what language do they respond?

BTW, Klensky can speak perfect Estonian - he doesn't even have an accent.

I guess he is boycotting Estonian on principle.

Giustino ütles ...

BTW, Klensky can speak perfect Estonian - he doesn't even have an accent.

I guess he is boycotting Estonian on principle.


Well, for older guys like him it's got to be hard. I mean I deal with service people in Tallinn who speak in Estonian to me, and then I look at their name tag and it says, "Olga Ivanova."

But the way I see it is that, laws or no laws, most (70 percent) of the people in Estonian are native Estonian-speakers, and another 10-15 percent are decent in the language, and the non-fluent residents usually live in areas where they can get by without much contact with Estonian speakers (Narva, for example).

I don't know about Tallinn city, but at the federal level, Estonian language would of course be the choice for all state dialog. Even without an official language. Estonians make up more than 80 percent of the populations of 13 of the 15 counties. In most cases it's more than 90 percent. Even in Harjumaa, they are still the majority at 60+ percent. The federal choice is a no brainer.

Another problem is that Russian language skills are generational. Younger Estonians don't have them, and older Estonians, as well as more rural Estonians, don't have them either. So again, the Russian-speaking minority is marginalized in the state context.

The trouble for Klenksi is that he's in Tallinn, which is also the capital, and thus seen as somehow indicative of the rest of the country. If Klenksi did his "only Russian" routine in Narva or Sillamäe, I doubt he'd get noticed as much.

plasma-jack ütles ...

self dug hole, called direct democtracy (which has attracted quite some anarchists into the green party)

Who do you mean? Any of the anarchists I know are not going to vote for any party, let alone belong to any of them.
If you are referring to certain punk icons, then Villu is a genuine green since '86 (or something) and Trube is just a retired rockstar with no meaningful purpose in his life and no real anarchist views.