kolmapäev, märts 07, 2007

Take a Bow

The impact of Sunday's elections is already having an effect on the Estonian political arena. Most prominently, three party heads resigned from their leadership positions following dismal results in the parliamentary elections.

The first, Andrei Zarenkov (left), is the head of the Estonian Constitution Party, a party that is ambiguous in name, but that has positioned itself as a political vehicle for the Russian minority. Zarenkov had enjoyed publicity due to the controversy surrounding the Bronze Soldier monument in Tallinn, and was recently quoted in Kommersant and The New York Times.

However, his party only received 5,470 votes on Sunday, or 1 percent of the total vote, as opposed to the 2.2 percent its predecessor party, the United Russian People's Party, received in 2003. Interestingly, that party also declined in the 2003 elections, losing its six seats in parliament that year.

Zarenkov blamed Russian financial support for the Estonian Center Party as detracting from his party's ability to woo voters.

I headed for the party's office, where its leader, Andrei Zarenkov, complained to me that United Russia is supporting Economic Minister Edgar Savisaar's Centrist Party rather than the Constitutional Party. Moreover, he hints, United Russia has other ulterior motives.

"Have you seen [the television show] 'Banditsky Petersburg'?" he asks. I tell him I haven't. He forges ahead anyway: "Do you remember how Antibiotik says, 'We're getting it from the Finns?' That's what's happening to us with United Russia. They're getting it from the Finns. That's why they're supporting Savisaar."

I tried to get Andrei to explain why the majority of Estonia's Russian-speaking population supports Edgar Savisaar instead of the Constitutional Party.

"First of all, they play this clip on television every day where [Russian State Duma speaker Boris] Gryzlov calls Savisaar his best friend. Secondly, you understand, there are more honest elections in Russia. There, people vote for the candidate that they like. Here, people only think about money. They vote for whomever is promising them more money."
So Zarenkov is gone and the Constitution Party is, as they say in the financial press, moribund.

Meanwhile, a very different party saw its leader step down
after it lost more than half of its seats in parliament. Villu Reiljan (right), head of Eestimaa Rahvaliit, tendered his resignation after the agrarian party lost seven seats in the Riigikogu, reducing their presence to six.

Reiljan's fortunes increased when ERL became a member of the ruling coalition in April 2005, but they took a steep nosedive after he signed a pact with Keskerakond's Edgar Savisaar that called for the reinstatement of Arnold Rüütel as president by, as we all learned last summer, any means necessary.

After that didn't work out, Reiljan was plagued by a real estate scandal and resigned as Minister of the Environment shortly after. ERL probably has some soul-searching to do. Its political campaigning shows it trying to appeal to rural voters, but most of Estonia's residents live in cities. What's more, the Social Democrats, led by Võru native Ivari Padar can win voters in both rural counties, like Hiiumaa and Võrumaa, as well as in urban areas.
It will be interesting to see how their strategy changes after this electoral defeat.

Finally, Sirje Kingsepp (no relation to Viktor Kingisepp), stepped down from her leadership role at Eesti Vasakpartei - the Estonian Left Party. The Estonian Left Party is "basically socialist" as Kingsepp said during her recent appearance on valimisstuudio.

Of all three party leaders I am saddest to see Sirje leave, if only because she was the easiest person to understand on the 'loser's edition' of valimisstuudio. Dmitri Klenksi, on the other hand, who is often praised for his language skills, was very difficult to understand. It almost seemed like he was overdoing his Estonian, if such a thing is possible.

PS: If anyone can explain Zarenkov's "Banditsky Petersburg" reference to me, it would be helpful to know exactly who is getting what from the Finns.

7 kommentaari:

Kaur ütles ...

two? what about Sirje Kingsepp and her Vasakpartei?

Giustino ütles ...

I forgot to add her. I guess I'll have to update the blog.

rakamon ütles ...

There has been comment in Russia, which is surprisingly little discussed in Estonia:
http://pribaltika.eu/index.php?site=5&article=2014
Российские политики, такие как министр транспорта Игорь Левитин, председатель Счетной палаты РФ Сергей Степашин, председатель Государственной думы РФ Борис Грызлов, должны в полной мере разделить ответственность проигрыша Центристской партии на парламентских выборах в Эстонии, так сегодня, 5 марта, прокомментировал ИА REGNUM итоги выборов в парламент Эстонии эксперт по проблемам регионального развития на постсоветском пространстве Сергей Артеменко.

It says that according to expert on Estonian matters Sergey Artemenko, the Minister of Transportation Igor Levitin, chairman of the Russian Treasury Sergey Stepashin and speaker of the Duma Sergey Stepashin are co-responsible for the loss of centrists in Estonian elections.

space_maze ütles ...

Apparently, Konstitutsioonierakond is suggesting a merger of all the loser parties for the next election.

Why Rahvaliit should want this, exactly, I have no idea.

Scott ütles ...

Sirje is kind of cute. How she can be a commie -- I want the backstory.

Vova ütles ...

I read Klenski's piece on the Delfi portal--the Russian edition. He was truly incoherent. So much so that one would be tempted to interptet it as a parody on '75 vintage "soviet" propaganda.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Sirje is kind of cute. How she can be a commie -- I want the backstory.

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