esmaspäev, september 22, 2008

say what?

In the impatient world of Estonian politics, voters are getting sick of looking at Prime Minister Andrus Ansip. Estonians are not used to having the same leader for more than two years in a row.

This morning, I drank my morning coffee and read an op-ed by Gunnar Kobin, head of AS Ülemiste City, who passionately explained his reasons for wanting a new government.

In Kobin's world, no current Estonian politicians would hold positions in this "dream team" government of specialists. Banker Indrek Neivelt would be prime minister. Bankers Märten Ross {Eesti Pank} or Erkki Raasuke {Swedbank} could be finance minister. Railroad engineer Raivo Varet would be economic affairs and communications minister, while entrepreneurs Hannes Tamjärv or Enn Saar would find new work at the ministry of education. Actually, qualified candidates could be found for any ministry, Kobin writes.

Kobin didn't name a foreign minister for his new government, but Äripäev editor-in-chief Meelis Mandel wrote recently that Feodor Berman, CEO of BLRT Group, would be the best Estonian-Russian to soothe things over with the eastern neighbor. Both Mandel and Kobin's advice to Estonia? Emulate the Finns. No Bronze Soldiers. No Saakashvili support. Just mo' money, mo' money, mo' money. [Damon Wayans for minister of culture? He's not a citizen, but ...]

Unfortunately, unless Neivelt and Raasuke form the "Bankers' Party" and and defeat the other "banker's party" -- the Reform Party -- in the next elections, forming a new government with Saar's "IT Party," we'll be stuck with the government we have. Most Estonians still hold Reform Party in the highest regard, though I haven't seen any polls with Ansip's personal approval ratings.

There are really only three options for Estonians when it comes to their government.

Option one: continuity. Ansip stays in place until the next parliamentary elections 2011. I find this scenario unlikely, but ... who knows.

Option two: decapitation. Ansip is ousted by internal Reformierakond opposition and replaced by someone more palatable; or he runs in the European parliament elections (against Edgar Savisaar and perhaps Mart Laar) to get out of Dodge City next year, bequeathing the job to a handpicked successor.

Option three: new government. This would be another hodgepodge of political philosophies, pairing Isamaaliit with the Social Democrats and Center Party. I've seen speculation that good old Juhan Parts, the 42-year old former prime minister and embodiment of Estonianness {see above}, could lead such a government.

I wouldn't withhold support for a Parts government, even though he advises that Estonian children be given traditional names, such as "Juhan." But I think many people in the business community are frustrated with their options, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of them switch over into politics in coming years to work things from the other side. Given some of the thin resumes of the current slate of ministers, having a banker as finance minister might not actually be a bad idea.

19 kommentaari:

slobo ütles ...

Juhan Parts had advice on names? That's rich.

Take him out of Estonia and he sounds like a bloody junkyard proprietor.

I would say, though, that compared to figures of whose personal lives more is known, the more private Parts would be a refreshing change.

Andres ütles ...

Why did Parts' government fall again? Because of the quotas issue with the law enforcement? So he doesn't have that much "dude, you ruined Estonia" baggage like Laar or Ansip. Why not actually? He hasn't had any extremely negative publicity lately.

Giustino ütles ...

The Teflon Juhan?

Kristopher ütles ...

I think Estonians get resentful when another Estonian tells them what to do for too long.

But we're dupes because we think we can switch between the same three or four guys and it will somehow be better the next time. I kind of figure that once a guy leaves office, that should be it for him. I was really confused when Mart Laar came back the second time after resigning. If someone did that, I would assume that he would at least have changed his name to "Märt Laar" or something or that he had rethought his world view and said, "Damn, that didn't work, now for somethnig completely different", but it was pretty much the same Laar, just a little heavier. The whole thing was like, "OK, y'all got in my way and I'm continuing where I left off, or else we won't get to the EU." Or in Parts' case it would now be, "Hello, I didn't do anything that memorably bad. Here I am again, people."

No, I propose that a mercenary PM be imported. This is what we do for Eurovision -- we bring on a heavy-hitter who happens to be a foreigner -- and it works. Estonians are deferential to foreigners. In this case, it would be like, "OK, Estonia, I'm __ __ and I'm your new leader," except the PM would actually say that, in English.

He/she doesn't need to be exotic. Just look for someone who isn't usual. I wouldn't propose either Edward Lucas or Paul Goble, though occasionally I see a piece by them in the Estonian press in perfect Estonian and there are practically no negative comments, but it would be someone like that, just with more CEO-type experience.

Check the Constitution and see what is necessary. Maybe not a Swedish or Finnish businessman -- this would rub people the wrong way -- but Norwegian-Danish? And definitely a businessman, then they could take Estonian citizenship and give up their old one more easily.

Giustino ütles ...

Check the Constitution and see what is necessary. Maybe not a Swedish or Finnish businessman -- this would rub people the wrong way -- but Norwegian-Danish?

We could steal one of their princes, invariably named Haakon or Frederik. Change their names to Heikki or Priit and you've got PM material.

Toivo ütles ...

Hannes Tammjärv - ... ex-banker ...

Tiia-Triin ütles ...

One m I believe BTW.

Wahur ütles ...

Any Estonian banker to become a minister? Well, at least Estonian press should be happy. For the lifetime of such government boring no-news periods of summer would be over. 'Cause dirty laundry of ministers would be sufficient to fill 4 years worth of newspapers easily.

Giustino ütles ...

You are right -- it was misspelled in the article.

nipi ütles ...

Option with centrists seems so unrealistic. We have lost connection between people and leaders. This option strengthens the feeling. And result would be crazy. Yes, maybe the raise of new Bez Rublika headed by businessmen - but no, i do not think any russian-friendly line is possible. This is not a solution even when we cannot chose neighbours.

Giustino ütles ...

I don't understand why SDE doesn't get more votes. They seem like the "European" center-left option. They should be challenging KESK in Tallinn and in Ida-Virumaa.

But, when polled, only about one out of every 10 Estonians picks SDE. It's naive to think that a center-left government could normalize relations with Russia.

But I think they would make Russia's criticisms sound even more hollow. It's like Katrin Saks? A fascist? Get real! Ivari Padar? Guilty of rewriting history? Ha ha.

Kristopher ütles ...

No one takes Russia's criticisms seriously.

Saks has two S's in it. That is all the Russians need to portray anyone as a fascist, given the level of sophistication they have demonstrated to this point.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Saks is actually a former communist party member. I wouldn't know that if she didn't mention it in European Parliament while advocating the move to declare communism a criminal ideology or smth.

Giustino ütles ...

No one takes Russia's criticisms seriously.

Then why do they keep it up?

Saks is actually a former communist party member.

Aren't most Estonian politicians of a certain age?

nipi ütles ...

Well, define the age. I am 50 and at my age there are a lot of active people who avoided the CP. Only those immediately willing for career (karjerist) stepped from mid-80s into party.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Are there any important politicians born in 50s and not having commie background? All of those I could think of are born in 60s (Laar, Parts, Padar etc).

Kristopher ütles ...

The Prez.

Giustino ütles ...

That's why Ilves made a good candidate -- no commie baggage.

Martin-Éric ütles ...

OK, I am not tainted by Russian, Finnish or Swedish blood; I actively promote Estonia as a part of my job, heck, I'm Mr.Good Vibes when it comes to this country; I come from the private sector; I'd trade my passport for the Estonian one any day. What do I win? :)