Somebody in Estonia really likes Andrus Ansip. It's not my in-laws. They hail from Viljandimaa: Mart Laar country. They are Isamaa to the bone. I was asked a few times about my electoral preferences close to election day by them, to which I sheepishly mentioned that our family's sympathies lay with the commie Social Democrats and the pinko Green Party.
It's not that I don't like Mart Laar. I think he's rad. It's just that I am afraid that if the patrician/historian were prime minister again, it would get to the point where the Riigikogu would be debating resolutions condemning Russian imperial atrocities from the Great Northern War. But I do like history, so I have a feeling I'd be able to live through it.
I dislike the Center Party's Savisaar, of course -- of course -- because I have deep anxiety that he would handle Estonia as he has handled Tallinn, and Tallinn is messy. The traffic is awful, the architecture going up is unwisely chosen. I get the impression that Savikas only listens to people that are wealthy enough to own their own islands. At least Jüri 'Abiratas' Ratas -- the previous mayor, one year older than I -- spoke eloquently of wider bicycle usage and a mammoth Kalevipoeg straddling Tallinn Harbor.
Which brings us back to Ansip. I was pleased when he was reelected in March, not because I especially liked him, but because he defeated Savisaar, who seemed like he was gloating at the debate. And that's where the recent poll from TNS Emor shocks me a bit because I had a gut feeling that Ansip was a 'lesser evil' kind of politician. An, 'I really don't like Savisaar, so I am voting for Hunt Kriimsilm' kind of politician. Instead, the new poll tells us that about 43 percent of Estonians -- I guess the ones I never discuss politics with -- are behind Andrus all the way. Not only that, they like Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Justice Minister Rein Lang. A sh*tload of Estonians support the Reform party. That's reality.
The Center Party's poll numbers have atrophied to 18 percent of the vote, putting their coalition of poor rural Estonian grannies and poor urban Russian grannies nearly at the same level of support as Isamaa-Res Publica Liit's. I am not surprised that the Social Democrats hold their share at 10 percent. I'll confess, I am an Ilves/Palo Social Democrat at heart. Why? because I like how Ilves manages to work whatever book he is reading into every speech and I like Palo's touchy-feely yet logical approach to the issues.
That doesn't mean that I don't sympathize with what Ansip or Laar or even sometimes Savisaar are saying. I mean I enjoyed watching Ansip duke it out in the heady days of the Bronze Soldier. He looked arrogant yet cool and in charge, and I respect him for that. It just means that I have the same reaction to the Social Dems that, say, people in Utah have when they hear George W. Bush talk about Jesus. They know how to push my buttons. Good thing I can't vote. Here.
But going into the election, the Reform Party only had about a quarter of the vote locked up. How did they jump to 43 percent? One can only deduce that it is because of the government's demeanor during the nasty days at the end of April and because people still have work, roads are still being fixed, and why change horses when things seem headed in the right direction? The Reform Party is the status quo party, and the status quo is a Selver in every neighborhood.
These are, generally, happy days in Estonia, and Andrus Ansip is unexpectedly presiding over this era of satisfied feelings. If any of you can speak to the popularity of Reform in Eesti right now I am very willing to hear your take on how Ansip's party has attained this edge. It's interesting because I think many foreign policy analysts have mixed feelings about his leadership.