So we just finished watching the big debate on ETV-hosted valimisstuudio program, featuring the prime ministerial candidates of all of the "real" political parties in Estonia, including already in the riigikogu, those who poll well, and the Eesti Kristlikud Demokraatid (Christian Democrats), whoever they are.
After watching the debates, I've composed this list of winners , the "eh", based on my reaction to the different candidates.
Edgar Savisaar (Keskerakond) - it's quite likely that Keskerakond is going to win tomorrow, and Savisaar exuded confidence during the debate, consistently attempting to stay "above" the criticism lobbed at him by IRL candidate Mart Laar. It's no wonder he's popular here in Estonia, he's a talented debater. Unfortunately he makes bad decisions. Allying your party with United Russia? Maybe you should have allied yourself with your "Center Party" colleagues in Finland first!
Marek Strandberg (Rohelised) - Seated on the other side of the table - far away from Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Mart Laar, and Savisaar, Strandberg seemed pleasantly detached from the back and forth between IRL and Keskerakond, taking every opportunity to refocus a question on another issue. I enjoyed listening to his responses, and he never looked bored. I hope he gets his five seats.
Andrus Ansip (Reformierakond) - Seated between Savisaar and Laar, Ansip made both of the two poles in Estonian politics seem a bit petty and foolish. Instead, Ansip came across as clear-headed and responsible, and kept the focus on the Reform Party's liberal economic platform.
Mart Laar (Isamaa-Res Publica Liit) - I had to invent an "eh" category just for Laar. because he didn't lose the debate, but he didn't exactly look like a winner either. Instead he took every opportunity to criticize Savisaar or Keskerakond. Part of me thinks that Laar knows that he's not going to be in the next government and he's just trying to rally the anti-Savisaar troops. The other part of me fears that this is just a self-fulfilling prophecy. The best point Laar made was that salaries and pensions cannot be fixed by just promising an extra 500 EEK. These things grow over of time in tandem with the economy. Thanks for the small oasis of reality.
Aldo Vinkel (Eesti Kristlikud Demokraadid) - Where did this party come from and how did they get invited to valimisstuudio? I haven't seem them in one poll and then - poof! - out of nowhere they appear with an advertising blitz. Out of utter confusion, Vinkel merits an "eh" but it's a different kind of "eh" than Laar's "eh."
Villu Reiljan (Eestimaa Rahvaliit) - Villu barely managed to look anyone in the eye during the debate, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was napping during part of it. Even with my Estonian comprehension skills I was waiting for the next word to fall out of his mouth. Somebody should have given him some coffee before the program.
Ivari Padar (Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Erakond) - Ivari similarly seemed bored during the debate. Maybe he also got tired of the "Gigantide Heitlus" between Laar and Savisaar. I've read that both of these guys are from Võru. Maybe it's a sleepy part of the country.