A surprise in the new cabinet is the inclusion of Jüri Pihl as Minister of the Interior. Pihl has previously headed the Estonian security police, and also been Prosecutor General. Until now, Pihl has been unpolitical, but will now represent the Social Democrats in cabinet, which further strengthens the impression of a coming SDE stronghold on Estonian politics.
What drives this logic? Well, there is the obvious question of what will follow the eventual unraveling of the rightwing coalition of Isamaa and Reform. I say eventual in that in parliamentary politics power usually swings between parties, although in Estonia either Reform or Isamaa-Res Publica have been in power since 1999 and perhaps before that too [help me out here guys].
The Social Democrats are uniquely positioned in that they 1) have experience in holding power; 2) are nationalist and eurofriendly enough to secure rightwing votes; 3) have a broad, internationally tested philosophical basis that makes it easier for them to reach out to marginalized voters -- such as Russian-speakers or the unemployed or the elderly -- that parties like Reform (the rich guys) and Isamaa (the patriotic guys) don't have.
It's interesting that in this last election almost every person I knew that wasn't voting for Isamaa-Res Publica was voting for the Social Democrats. Why? Because they seem like the most mainstream Estonian party -- and that's perhaps what Konnander is hinting at. They are the party that is easiest to belong too. Ivari Padar may not be the most charismatic guy, but he's also probably the hardest to hate, in the same way that some people hate Edgar Savisaar or think Mart Laar is a baffoon.
Finally, because of the party's structure and its lack of 'the charismatic leader' -- young aspiring politicians sense that enlisting in SDE's ranks could pay off. I mean if you join Keskerakond, then you'll just find yourself like Jüri Ratas, won't you? Edgar Savisaar decides that he wants to be mayor of Tallinn, so your tenure is up. Yuck. Nobody wants that! If you join Isamaa-Res Publica Liit then you better get in line behind Taavi Veskimägi if you want a job. The field is crowded. Reform? A lot of well qualified people already belong to that party. But SDE? There's room for growth and attention. It's an attractive alternative for those who wish to enter into public service.
SDE is in the unique position that it could basically adopt any policy and still look like SDE. Not a bad place to be.