neljapäev, juuli 12, 2007

Nuts for Ansip

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.

51 kommentaari:

Kristopher ütles ...

Good. The most welcome thing to me is that the corporate income tex will remain effectively zero on matter what the EU says.

Along with Savisaar being a deeply unsavoury figure, I don't believe his type of big govt ever works.

Woe is anybody who needs urgent medical care in the countryside. Then again, I guess Tallinn is a short helicopter ride away from anywhere.

Didn't Ansip make some of his money in ice cream in Tartu -- Balbiino I believe ... and he's a cool customer. Too bad in a way that the int'll media have been so cautious, there all sorts of nice leads here for profiles and features.

i like that he is incredibly lucky (Bronze Soldier) and physcially fit. Does he have the democratic and humnaist background to be a truly great leader. Can\t imagine.

andres kahar ütles ...

Good (opinionated) party round-up; good post, G. I suspect, in some alternate reality not dissimilar to this one, we'd nod in unison on at least a couple points.

I'm far removed from the scrum on Toompea, so I'd always defer to observers on the ground, and those who surely know better. That said, I suspect you might've answered your own question. Why Reform(mania)? Because, for now, Estonia, is feeling okay. Call them what you want -- caucus parties, power parties, whatever -- but many party systems seem to have a party, often in the centre, that seems to capture the Zeitgeist, and articulate a set of values that a majority can get behind, or at least tolerate, for the time being. Those parties can, for a time, soak up voters from the fringes. In Canada, historically, that party has been the Liberals -- the so-called "natural governing party of Canada." (But, as ever, scandal knocked them down a couple pegs. If curious, google: "Liberals, sponsorship scandal.")

Never trusted, nor liked, Savisaar much. But for entirely personal reasons: I've had a few friends and acquaintances in their mid-20s who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because of what they allegedly witnessed near the alleged Savisaar estate in the mythical land of Keila-Joa in both 1991 and 1995: billowing black smoke, and lots of it, coming from what might have been his house. There was howling and screaming, and some Russian heard.

"What's that, Mommy?" Toivo asked, innocently.

At once a beefy simian guard, armed with a pager and truncheon, materialized out of nowhere, and slapped the child, hard.

"Don't ask and don't tell," said Security. "Ever!"

Too many different people -- who've never met, never compared notes!! -- tell the same story, and it always ends the same way.

I'll take issue with only one point in this post, Giustino: your description of Laar as "rad."

C'mon, G. You could outfit Mart in an Alien T, Stereo jeans, and Ezekiel hoody, tuck a skateboard under his arm (knocking Mikheil's dossier to the ground, policy papers flying everywhere) -- and he would still not be "rad." Call him "assuredly tweedy" -- okay. Call him "avuncularly fun," "professorially enticing" or even -- umm -- "Marsupial"? BB King is cool. So are Bowie, Elmore Leonard and Johnny Depp. Mart Laar is...

Solid.

Kristopher ütles ...

Damn this 10 hour time zone difference with Estonia. Not only does it seem like I hang out on this blog full time just to get in the first comment, but the Toronto radical set (who stays up even later) is now posting semi-fictionalized interludes based on my darkest family secrets involving Savisaar -- secrets that only I could know? Tyler Durden syndrome?

Just to prove I am not a one-dimensional Savisaar hater suffering from some dark trauma, let me go on the record as saying avuncular and tweedy, in Laar's case, are matched by decadent and corpulent. The former would be Bill Bryson, whose book jacket image Laar ostensibly resembles to a T, but a close-up encounter with Laar will convince you he is actually Katz, Bryson's foil. This may seem like a personal attack, but it is just to prove my neiutrality.

Kristopher ütles ...

...as a two-dimensional Savisaar hater suffering from some dark trauma!

andres kahar ütles ...

[Terribly sorry, Kris. I honestly didn't know that you were among Porky's so-called 'Lost Kids.'

It's a damned shame: cops, firefighters, soldiers and even journalists have mechanisms in place to deal with the traumas potentially experienced by first responders. But what about those who've had contact with Savisaar -- lived near him, sat in a room with him, read newspaper articles about him???

Until Savisaar gets the humanity to retire east from Estonian politics, I fear that the number of those revictimized will increase exponentially.

Meantime, Savisaar will keep tweaking his master plan.]

Puu ütles ...

I just have to say that I find it totally nice that all these guys who aren't estonian take so much interest in the country and its politics. Any body who knows me for more than a day knows I have daddy issues. My Dad married an Estonian and if he would take a tenth of the thought towards the country that y'all do I would be a 100 times happier girl.

It must be the Carmen Kass, hot girls come from Estonia effect. Hot smart girls. I do think there is a strong biological imperative running under the huge bloomm of interest certain techy guys have taken in the little country. But it is a very good thing. I approve. Jah approves. Maybe there should be like a hot smart girls party in Estonia. I have always believed that women would do a really good jobs running things. And they are certainly as much of a natural resource as trees.

People can be rad and solid.It's a wide reaching term that seeks to embrace a younger audience, perhaps dumbing us down at the same time in lines with Harold Bloom's criticism of Harry Potter. In certain circles the public library is considered rad, .... democracy, a balanced budget all rad. It signifies something positive. It isn't very nuanced, neither however, is the word great for example. You could say someone is great and it doesn't have a lot of depth, but there are many occasions where lack of depth is appropriate.

Puu ütles ...

Meaning also that lack of depth with regards to history is appropriate and important too.
I think that Estonia's greatest strength is the hardworking decency of it's residents. Without straying into social realism a government that having settled the big stand off with Russia could focus on real issues that are constant to human life and society, like education, health care and maybe some railroads to replace the soviet era bus system would be the best for Estonia. Those are the real issues, not how evil Savisaar is (who cares, he does look cute in those tights though) or how much some other guys are high on self promotion. Who cares about character so much ( though character is an issue, you don't want a baby eater as prime minister, the Estonian republic does not like people who eats babies) it can denegrate into a contest of name calling rather than indentifying the issues and getting things done.

Kristopher ütles ...

Andres -- nice dossier on the guy. Or maybe I just don't know how to use the Internet. Anyway, Savisaar would be proud of your file on him.

"Rad" – the shortened version -- reminds me of early 1980s California skateboarder talk. I don't know any other cultural context...

Solid as in soliidne (presentable)? Tom Wolfe gets called solid by a Merry Prankster in that classic book of his, but he knows she means stolid. But Laar is not especially soliidne, or stolid. He is a big man, perhaps bigger than Savisaar. So solid in that sense?

But perception of personality is a subjective thing, ain't it? I don't find Carmen Kass the least bit attractive, I think she looks like she has Marfan's. But yeah, I concur with what every male backpacker inevitably will tell you if you are a fellow male having a superficial conversation -- man, the girls in Estonia are hot... More than most.

Kristopher ütles ...

Since that comment may be misunderstood, I should note that I have never heard Kass say anything. She may be the most eloquent, dynamic personality in the world, out there plugging causes right and left. And that could make her very hot (ülekantud tähenduses), even if she doesn\t meet my physical standards.

But I have no information, just preconceived notions about "supermodels" in general.

In general, Estonia is full of clever women and the conventional wisdom is that Estonian guys are intimidated by clever women.

I believe the women wear the proverbial pants and society is way more matrilineal than we give it credit for -- Estonian men show a fairly consistent trend of well...die-off. You can't get much more powerful than being the quiet stewards of society's (non-drinking and war-related) traditions and genetic lines. And that's what the women are. I would cautiously argue that I don't know why many women would even want to mess with politics, as the whole process seems a bit...emasculating.

Scott ütles ...

"... a Selver in every neighborhood."

I'm going to steal that line.

Flasher T ütles ...

LOL. Krikken and Kahar the Younger. What a combination. Like two particles in an accelerator, if they ever collide, we'll know exactly what the Big Bang looked like.

The reason Reform is enduringly powerful - and I think it's more Reform the party rather than Ansip the PM - is because the Next Big Problem in Estonia right now is getting the economy to land safely. The favourite topic is the imminent collapse of the real-estate market, which for better or worse affects everybody in the country. We need to keep the economy healthy, and Reform is (rightly) seen as the economy specialist. I've said before the elections that they're a one-trick pony - and Ansip is a shit politician, though a competent manager - this is why they've been in every coalition for as long as most folks care to remember. Now, their one trick is the entire game.

It must be the Carmen Kass, hot girls come from Estonia effect.

I've seen Carmen Kass in person. I'm a sucker for petite blondes, but this cat ain't making me purr. It's all smoke and mirrors and screen presense, in reality she's a barely re-animated skeleton.

Maybe there should be like a hot smart girls party in Estonia.

Yes please. Not so much for the chance of getting into parliament - though I'd vote for them - as for the opportunity to have all the hot smart girls with an interest in politics collected in one place. :)

"Rad" – the shortened version -- reminds me of early 1980s California skateboarder talk. I don't know any other cultural context...

There are always the Rad Lords of Gibson and Sterling's 'The Difference Engine'. Suggesting Laar would fit right in with the likes of Brunel, Babbage and Prime Minister Byron may be a bit too much ass-kissing, but hey...

Puu ütles ...

Why is women in politics emasculating? I don't get that one at all. Prison rape, castration, eunuchs, many aspects of military service are all emasculating, all usually carried out by one top man ( or one or two top men) who wants ( want) to make sure he (they) has the biggest dick(s) around. These things tend to take place in places where men are running the show. Countries where women have active roles in government , Sweden, Finland,The netherlands, California tend to also have higher rates of sexual freedom and expression and one would imagine satisfaction. Even though they walk around with like Baby Bjorns I wouldn't call the average Swedish man emasculated. Those babies aren't coming from aisle 6 at Ikea. What is good for the goose in good for the gander.

Frank ütles ...

For those who are not so easily charmed by Carmen Kass, does anybody know what has become of Monika Lohmus, she used to make quite a stir in sunny Italy?

Frank ütles ...

I would like or I have to add that the womenfolk of Estonia does not need models who make it elsewhere (wearing fashion or wearing nothing) to deserve and get compliments galore ... I guess it is a rare mixture of naturalness and easily adopted sophistication combined with the mingling of ethnic groups for centuries that does the trick, with self-assurance as a topping.

Juan Manuel ütles ...

I do think there is a strong biological imperative running under the huge bloomm of interest certain techy guys have taken in the little country.

What I find so funny about Estonian gals is that they are deeply convinced of two facts. A) They are hot. And B) If you are studying this obscure language and taking an interest in Estonian politics, then you must be looking for sex.

I have been reading Estonian newspapers for the entire morning, including that sexy Savisaar open-ed at Postimees. But is there no easier way to reach our biological goals?

Coming back to the point, all the Estonians I know seem to be members of the Mart Laar fan club.

Personally I don't dislike Ansip. His stance at the bronze soldier crisis seemed to be effective to steal votes from IRL-RPL and Estonians are happy that there are no more statues to remove.

My only criticism is that this government must tackle inflation by reducing spending and/or increasing indirect taxation. If it had done it before, Estonia might now be safely in the Eurozone, just like Slovenia, and the economy would not be overheated.

Puu ütles ...

I think it may be less of a taxation ( the twenty five percent flat tax thing is working pretty well) issue than the fact that in some ways Skype aside Estonia is treading water in terms of producing goods and services and also that it is a large consumer of foreign goods. Initially foreign businesses investing in a country bring in a lot of money but this levels off unless the country itself has viable things to export. Finland's doing well because finnish brands are doing well internationally. there is a marimekko on the upper west side and nokia phones are everywhere. Estonia's been selling trees to the American supermarkets but in the long run that is pretty wasteful. Estonia has a lot of innovative design talent, if that could be harneshed and branded some real money could be made. The trick is to be autonomous from the land of Ladas next store. Soviet kitsch is good for selling vodka and some music but that's all. Slovenia is a different story. And the EU doesn't guarantee anything. It could overheat too.

Cyrus ütles ...

Hi, my name is Cyrus Farivar and I'm an American journalist visiting Estonia (my third trip!). I'm working on a book about the effects of the Internet in different countries around the world, including Estonia. I may be passing through Tartu next weekend (not this weekend, but the one after), and would love to have a beer with you. Email me if you're interested: cfarivar [at] cfarivar [dot] org.

Giustino ütles ...

"Rad" – the shortened version -- reminds me of early 1980s California skateboarder talk. I don't know any other cultural context...

It was intended as irony, but at the same time it wasn't, as I have seen Laar pump his fists in glee at making the Russians angry, and I think there was something rad about it, or as we would say on 1980s Long Island "mint".

So it was post-irony, if you will. You think it's irony, but it's sincere. ;)

As for Estonian women, I like them, but I also hate them. Why do I hate them? Because if their shorts get any higher this summer I am going to crash my car, that's why.

plasma-jack ütles ...

You know, it's equally hard for us, Estonian dudes. How the hell am I supposed to do anything producive in a working environment like that?

Juan Manuel ütles ...

Well, in the Eurozone you can have the second highest current account deficit in the world and still you don't risk a devaluation.

Andres Sehr ütles ...

We need to keep the economy healthy, and Reform is (rightly) seen as the economy specialist.

I'm not sure that I agree with your idea that Reform are rightly considered economic specialists, I think most of the growth that has occurred over the last 3-4 years are in response to policies made years ago but earlier governments. In fact, I'd say that a lot of Reforms current policies may lead to a hard landing rather than a soft one. Their drive to lower taxes, increase wages and spend every last penny of government revenues are not going to help the overall economy. With the Kroon tied to the Euro and foreign banks unwilling to slow down lending the only outlet Eesti has to slow the economy is through fiscal policy, unfortunately Reforms fiscal policy leaves much to desire and will simply push the economy to the brink imo.

plasma-jack ütles ...

another timely addition to Savisaar gallery


link to article

Wahur ütles ...

Juan Manuel said...
What I find so funny about Estonian gals is that they are deeply convinced of two facts. ... B) If you are studying this obscure language and taking an interest in Estonian politics, then you must be looking for sex.

But Juan, its quite obvious. Look at this very discussion. Started with Ansip, but like most of them others, ended up with Kass and Estonian hotties. I think it makes it very-very clear where your mind wanders most of the time :D

Doris ütles ...

well, being a lifelong Tartu-person, I've always voted for Reform. Probably because everyone else I knew did, because they (Reform) were the most likely to knock the socks off Keskerakond and because they keep their promises. Yeah, they're a backstabbing bunch who've had their share of scandal but if you think about it, they HAVE kept their major promises. and they HAVE come up with some rather ingenious ideas. Maternity-pay, anyone? you would think that this would be something that the Social Democrats would suggest, but no, it was Reform. I'm also a firm supporter of the flat tax system and since that one seems to be Reform's tagline, well... I also think that they're right in their overall idea of "first you have to MAKE money, then you get to spend it"

Ansip as a person though... hmm, sure thre are more charismatic people out there. but as the previous people have mentioned, I like that he's athletic and he always participates (as opposed to opens with a big flair and phanphare) in the big events like the Tartu ski/bike - depending on the season - marathon and even the Laulupidu, he walked the whole way with the choirs. Not just a little bit in the beginning and not just a welcome in the end, all the way. Other than that I really liked how he ran Tartu when he was in office. yeah, sure there were problems and, again, scandals (like everywhere else no doubt)but the overall feel of the city was orderly and prospering and peaceful. And I liked it.

However, in the recent past when I've been in the Netherlands it seems to me more and more that the Social affairs should be addressed more. which is why it's excellent that the Social Dems are in the gov't now and therefore in on the decisionmaking. I wouldn't want a demagogue like Savisaar giving all the newborn babies 25 kroons and then dumping them at the nearest trash dump because, hey, he already got what he wanted from them.

as for Laar, he's unreliable. You never know what will come out of his mouth next and there's a good chance it'll be completely undiplomatic. the man has no sense of (international) tact. Besides, if you've ever actually read any of his history works, most of it is not even very good. and the Isamaa as a whole... meh... I mean, patriotism is all well and good but Estonia already is one of the most narrow-minded places I know so I really don't think we should let guys who'd narrow the sights even more into power.

Kristopher ütles ...

Puu...re emasculated, I should have just said "mojo-draining". Yr hot, smart woman might find her own Demetrian energy frittered away in the endless hashing out of legislation and keeping special interests at bay. much as an fluorescents might drain the essential energy of someone not meant for an office job.

That's all I meant.

Men with babybjorns on the other hand is empowering-- and BTW that is one of the few ways to get strangers in Estonia to smile at you on the street or tram -- dour pensioners...I would never have believed it.

andres kahar ütles ...

plasma-jack: excellent choice of pics -- thanks. but, is Savisaar's paw coming or going?

Blogaddict ütles ...

What's a babyjourn? Something Borat was wearing to the beach?

Kristopher ütles ...

Yeah, the pensioners love the thong. It\s a great tension breaker on public transit.

margus ütles ...

kristopher wins this thread!

andres kahar ütles ...

He wins this thread by announcing how he spends his days riding transit in a thong whilst wearing a baby carrier??!!

Many of us have a secret fetish. But all of this confessionalism is most un-Nordic.

margus ütles ...

Who was confessing what?

kristopher made a cunning response to blogaddict who might have realized that babybjorn isn't a thong (probably did but didn't spell it out ).

So what is your secret fetish?

Giustino ütles ...

Many of us have a secret fetish. But all of this confessionalism is most un-Nordic.

On the contrary, it's a latenight Swedish talk show in here. Right about now it's time for someone to show off their new piercing ...

Swedish girls are sexy too. This "Estonian girls are, like, so hot, dude" thing is out of control.

margus ütles ...

So Giustino is a lefty? Can't say I'm surprised. I like social democrats, I think they're cute and adorable. I mean: who wants to leave homeless people die in the cold like rabid rodents, or something? Hardened psychopaths or even lawyers. I especially like Estonian social democrats because they realize that forcing people to be compassionate is not a viable concept. So kudos to that.

Giustino ütles ...

So Giustino is a lefty? Can't say I'm surprised.

I am not really a lefty because I find the leftwingers (especially the European leftwing or even the San Francisco leftwing) to be totally out of it. I have no idea what planet they are on. I read their articles and shrug in total confusion.

I don't support the Iraq War, but it's not because 'war is bad; let's give peace a chance.' I oppose it because it is making us weaker by the minute, and I want America to be strong. I understand that there are other actors on this globe that are more than willing to exploit that weakness. I don't want it to get to that point.

But I am not a rightwinger either. I don't know what I am. I am the kind of person that likes the Estonian flat tax, but wished that everyone got free dental.

If I lived in Sweden, I probably would support Reinfeldt. But I am in Estonia and, as I said, the Social Democrats know how to talk to me. It's hard for me to get excited about a flat tax or about moving a statue.

andres kahar ütles ...

I detect a thematic shift here. Unexpected, but not altogether bad. Forget Estonian politics and culture. Let's just talk 'chicks and kicks' from now on. "Itching for chicks," we could retitle.

Cause, I gotta tell ya: I like chicks. Hot chicks. Lots of chicks. Naked chicks. Chicks with baby carriers. Chicks on public transit. But, who doesn't like chicks? I know who: guys with moustaches in politics, because they all want to be Freddie Mercury.

Kris was not being so cunning. The two of us go way back, and we have fetish stories that'd make your short-and-curlies go straight! Back in the day, in Valga/Valka, there was a so-called "cultural centre" called the Tarpu-G House of Illusion, where a few lost-soul expats stayed to get their kicks. Sadly, the House of Illusion was closed after the Danish-made furniture kept failing safety inspections: you couldn't even sit on those damned things without it turning slapstick!

Seriously, I do remember that being a recurrent topic of small-talk in the Baltic: 'You like our women? We have good beer? Yes, we have good women and good beer.' Thank the gods for Baltic cheese and Russian chauvinism: otherwise conversations with cabbies would've been either short or torturously repetitive.

margus ütles ...

Having a humanitarian stance doesn't mean you can't have a grip on reality. As I said, Estonian social democrats are quite sensible people. Even Jüri 'secret police' Pihl joined them and he is certainly not a mewling pinkie.

andres kahar ütles ...

In any society, when we have discussions about left vs. right or social democratic vs. liberal, I think our point of departure is key. Or, rather, how we frame the discussion.

Since neoliberal economics tends to define the discourse, we're too often impressed by how things look on paper: taxation policy, foreign investment, currency stats, stock market indicators, etc. Important stuff, no doubt. But what the neoliberal consensus can obscure is stuff like: safety net for lose left behind in an "economic transition,"* maternity leave, daycare, quality of education, state funding for the arts, etc, etc. These are the daily headlines in which Jaan and Kadri Lunchbucket live, not necessarily the overall state of real estate market or the boom of one industry.

I've grown weary of hearing social democrat or "lefty" being uttered like expletives or fetish-confessions. I personally have no shortage of contempt for those elements of the Left who romanticize the Soviet experiment or sputter apologies for Russia or so-called 3rd World dictators out of some gross ideological loyalty. But I'd also say that many keystones of the neoliberal consensus -- not least the pervading "trickle-down" principle -- have been totally discredited in practice, in many parts of the world.

And, if I were American, I think it would be wholly respectable to state that the "Iraq war is bad" simply because I, as a citizen, wouldn't want to be associated with bloody, imperialist policies. Hedging around the issue of war recalls Tocqueville's "tyranny of the majority" observation or the 'shame cultures' of Greece/Rome: that fear of standing apart, and not being of the patriotic majority. Watch Hillary Clinton weasel and writhe whilst playing that game: why would anyone want to look like that or sound like that?

andres kahar ütles ...

* "Transition"... Orwell advised us to look to the language. "Transition" was the common way of describing a country's/society's transformation (better word) socio-economically. "Transition" implies an end-point -- a definite goal, ideal-type or model. Which was very much the case when Baltic Finance/Economic ministries were haunted by IMF and various Western econimic advisers, more or less telling them how things ought to be done. Forget the paternalism of it all for a moment. But, how simplistic is that to assume that peoples with different histories, different cultures, different languages, different concerns/values/priorities should all develop along the same lines.

Kristopher ütles ...

(In spite of your online petty hooliganism (I don't actually spend my days riding the Kopli lines in a thong) I like your politics, Kahar, so I forgive you. I'm still not sure about Ansip, but maybe you have the democratic and humanist background? Possibly. I like how you casually slip in the reference to Tocqueville at the relevant place; pols have been associated with the vision thing for far less. The message here: "Don't mess with me (or my books)". And I'm not going to. You could have plenty more where that came from. And I like how you turned the discussion back in a positive, open-ended direction with two consecutive comments that sound like you are sitting by a fire with your accumulated knowledge behind you, after tidily packaging up all the silly chick topics and scandals into a third comment way back in the scroll. And I am not being cunning.)

Personally I claim a little sympathy with the Cuban experiment, but I'm there with most commentators here, a mix of left and right. Can't say I disagree with the moderator's politics, either. A strong America is the only good option. But surrounded by seismic activity here on the Rim, I sometimes am forced to consider that in a way the war in Iraq (or somewhere) is inevitable much like small earthquakes. The world is at a critical mass where there has to be some friction at the edges where "the cultural plates" collide -- from here on out it will be perpetual war. But better constant regular releases of pressure than the big one. So the "fight them there so we dont have to fight them on our own soil" crap that you hear from the 1% of Americans who are still behind Bush may ring true in a way unintended, if you subscribe to that above Volcano paradigm. It may be impossible for America to get stronger anymore without sacrificing some of its sons and daughters into the fire. That said, I can't believe I am saying that.

andres kahar ütles ...

Thanks, Kris... um, I think... I know, I know: Lord, is there no end to my greatness?

Seriously, I do enjoy the forum so far. Good blog, G. And, who needs internet porn when you've got this? Interesting subject matter, interesting ideas, and if it ever gets too eggheady, we're just a stroke or two away from "Girls! Girls! Girls!"

Puu ütles ...

It's not Giustino's fault the forum went to girls girls girls. But the off the cuff remark I made jokingly about the underlying gender hierachies in Estonian culture seems to have struck a chord that everyone likes to strum.Anyway I guess my comments took us from Savisaar in a thong to thongs being used to carry babies. Assuming it's not the same thong I find the second picture slightly more appealing.

But maybe this was pointing to a deeper and more urgent need in Estonian culture, the basic question of the emasculated Estonian male. As a former school teacher I can attest that the poor guys are outnumbered. And distracted, imagine being a hormonal teenager surrounded by all the maarjas and evas and siirets. I think that John Irving "Until I find You" should be in wider distribution to estonian boys. Bush and Ilves shaking hands aside, on the every day tourist level Sven from Sweden and John from the US or Britian is usually only interested in Estonian guys in order to have them bring over a beer for some bebe . If more Estonian men were Calvin Klein models surely the nations political problems would also even out... actually probably not. But the situation with Estonian men isn't really all that different than the gender divides with any group that has traditionally been a minority group. In America for example in the African American community, men get into trouble go to jail or the army and girls go to college on minority scholarships. Even in the olympics its women taking home the medals. I can't tell you how many Estonian men I know, both in the outside community and in Estonia that are depressed alcoholics. It is tied to economic opportunities.

Kahar I totally agree with your read on the pros of social dems.

Puu ütles ...

Being an Estonian man has historically been something like being mexican. If you are an Estonian man in Ireland or Sweden chances are people are going to be like so hows the pumpkin picking going my friend, mind if I hit on your sister? What Estonia needs more of is the equivalent of that guy from Y tu mama Tambien... the one with a nice smile. Suddenly Mexico is looking a little more virile. No more lawn mower men. Estonia needs male sex symbols. Or not( my tongue is in my cheek here sorta), but it would be interesting...I mean it is definitely a trend in US politics: Reagan, Arnold.

plasma-jack ütles ...

I've always voted for Reform. Probably because everyone else I knew did, because they (Reform) were the most likely to knock the socks off Keskerakond and because they keep their promises.

Back on topic. Since you seem to be the only one around here actually voting for RE and since you have always voted for them - how does this "knocking the Savi-socks off" fit with the fact that they have enjoyed cooperation with Kesk for years and probably would do it again if it wasn't for bronze crisis (never say never even in that case)?

plasma-jack ütles ...

btw, as far as I remember, "emapalk" was Res Publica's initiative and one of their key promises.

Frank ütles ...

To keep on strummin´ ...

If a comparison is allowed:
I guess in Sweden it is more simple to sort the more charming part of the population into two categories, one rather urban, the other one rather rural, Stockholm sweetning or Lund campus queen vs. girls from Jämtland and Norrbotten -
while in Estonia you might sooner have the impression of a certain simultaneity ... the same girl or woman could and would more often perform bella figura in the countryside as well as in urban surroundings -
which quality does strike me as very "nordic", and this is also true for other areas of life in Estonia, one foot in kesk aeg and metsad, the other one in the year 2022 (...)

As far as Estonian men are concerned, it might be telling, that - so it has been explained to me - they stay "poissid" till their late thirties or early forties, the passage from boy to man generally seems to begin later than elsewhere?

Or does "poiss" not really translate as "boy"?

(probably guilty of embellishing Estonia - certainly missing it)

Giustino ütles ...

I think my big question is how did Reform double its support in two or three months. Because prior to the election, these polls actually gave Kesk and edge. So what constituency is changing allegiences? It looks like Kesk has been losing ground, as has Rahvaliit and, to a lesser extent, IRL.

Andres Sehr ütles ...

Plasma-Jack: Excellent points. Reform has always shown their willingness to work with whoever they need too.

I'm interested in hearing what people there are Reforms top 3 policy decisions that they've implemented since I can't think of many.

btw - if anyone is in the Toronto area on July 31st there is a get together with Ansip that you could attend if you're interested.

Puu ütles ...

Argh. Sorry to mess up your pub Guistino. Everyone else please continue their discussions of the various merits of the different political parties currently on the ballot in Estonia. Frank, I think again that the very use of the word boy or poiss fits in very nicely with seeing Estonians as a historically minority group. Sorry to yet again trot out the African American example but boy would be a very common derogatory way of addressing a black man in the south in recent history. For a nation's men to be boys is a form of emasculation. I realize that the issue of serfdom in Estonia is more complex... for example Estonia was economically stronger than Finland before the second world war and now Estonians are being sorta exploited or tourist fodder for Finns but I think the concept bears some thought.

Doris ütles ...

oh, my bad on the emapalk. was too young to pay proper attention. as for Kesk and Ref, notice how Ref almost always promises to lower the taxes (as their main promise usually) and Kesk almost always promises to implement leveled taxes (as their main promise aside from giving the pensioners 500 kroons, but only in Tallinn and only once)? and then the election comes, Kesk and Ref pair up with someone in the middle and get haggling. Four years later the taxes have been lowered and Savisaar opens another highway that was funded from the overflowing budget and thumps his chest with "Tehtud!"

Overly simplified, perhaps but... that's the way I see it.

Giustino ütles ...

for example Estonia was economically stronger than Finland before the second world war and now Estonians are being sorta exploited or tourist fodder for Finns but I think the concept bears some thought.

The Finns just like to drink and they come to Tallinn because less people they work with will see them making fools of themselves.

It's nice that they come. I think Estonians visit Helsinki all the time for similar purposes --- you know, autotheft, ecstasy dealing, that kind of stuff.

No seriously, they go to Helsinki's waterparks and concerts and go buy clothing. Helsinki really does feel like 'the world' compared to tiny Tallinn. The Helsinki metropolitan area contains the entire population of Estonia (I think).

I mean compare the size of the airports. This is a small country. Estonians should think more 'Reykjavik' when they think of their position in the world rather than 'Helsinki Junior.'

It's too bad that some major political figures couldn't sign a treaty in Tallinn. That way we could have our own 'Tallinn Accords'.

Blogaddict ütles ...

No disucssion on current estonian affairs can be truly complete without mentioning the importance of rate.ee in the society and what it tells you about us as a nation.

It was Andrei Korobeinik who discovered the old american site "am-i-hot-or-not" and brought it to the estonian "masses" under the name "rate.ee". The success was so overwhelming that the people who originally came up with the idea can only envy.

Meet any estonian teenie popper and see them gush all over it.

What's your rate name?