esmaspäev, jaanuar 26, 2009

haarde day's night

In the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik this week a government fell. Last week, Prime Minister Geir Haarde gave up Commerce Minister Bjorgvin Sigurdsson to satiate the blood lust of the Christmas-tree burning masses. Now Haarde has handed in his own resignation.

The forecast? Possible leadership under a 10-year-old party called the "Social Democratic Alliance" together with its icky-sounding partners, the "Left-Green Movement" (not to be confused with the party "Icelandic Movement - Living Land" [splitters!]). Elections in May (they had been scheduled for 2011) to follow.

While Estland is not Iceland, the political squabbling that undermined its government is similar. In Iceland, you had a 'grand coalition' of liberals and social democrats. In Estland, the coalition includes the Social Democrats, who are willing yet ideologically dissimilar partners for a center-right government. Such coalitions are typically formed for political expediency, though ideology is known to rear its head.

As Haarde's liberal Independence Party heads into opposition, questions arise as to how a center-left government in a small, northern European country that is grappling with an economic crisis will rule. As I have written about previously, we still do not know what this coming renaissance of social democracy may bring. The labor movements of the 1930s have long faded from public memory, and the halcyon 1960s were experienced by today's political leaders only as children. There has been no reformulation of social democratic policies. The red symbols of these parties are cute, yet anachronistic.

In Estonia, the position of the center-left parties, including SDE and the Center Party, is more dubious. In the nordic countries, even outliers like Iceland, social democrats have some electoral track record. In Estonia, SDE is in the government and shows no interest in working with the leadership of KERA, while KERA is in opposition and is hoping to woo SDE. What haunts both parties is that there hasn't been a popularly elected left-wing government in Estonia since 1929! Should Estonia undergo a similar political shift, we will be heading into uncharted waters. In the meantime, we can watch Iceland for clues.

15 kommentaari:

Inner monologue ütles ...

Giustino - vene keelt oskad?

OK.

Siis vaata.

http://i.am.human.lv/zarplata/zarplata.htm

Giustino ütles ...

je neponemaju.

Inner monologue ütles ...

Then it's not funny. :-(

Lingüista ütles ...

Tõlkimine (huviliste jaoks):

Сижу = Ma istun.

Жду зарплату = Ma ootan palka

и тут вдруг говорят что её =
ja siin äkki ütlevad, et seda

НЕ БУДЕТ = EI OLE!

ахуеееееть! = oioioioioi!

Giustino ütles ...

Well, perhaps I am just one boring blogger, but I think it will be interesting to see what happens in Iceland. Like I said, the left is taking control during an economic crisis. This is not the 1990s, where you have these fuzzy social issues (gay rights, feminism, pacifism, multiculturalism, etc.). They are expected to protect all of society from an economic crisis. How they will do that is very interesting.

Lingüista ütles ...

I actually agree, Giustino. The Icelandic blog you linked to shows quite a lot of interest and makes the situation look like something very new in Iceland. They'll probably try to join the EU and profit from the security of the Euro. (The Economist had an article suggesting this outcome.)

stockholm slender ütles ...

Iceland is an absolutely fascinating and relevant case. I don't know about Estonia though - it seems to be like a Pavlovian reaction there to equate even the mildest (and historically anti-communist) leftism directly with Lenin and Stalin. I personally think that many of the post-independence social and economic policies have been quite bonkers and harmful even for these special post-soviet conditions, but don't even argue about those things with most Estonians. Maybe in a generation the majority might realize that social democracy does not actually come from the devil...

Giustino ütles ...

Maybe in a generation the majority might realize that social democracy does not actually come from the devil...

Well, one of the cornerstones of the state is restoration, and the restorationist historians are closely involved with the right-wing parties. The fact that interwar politics were dominated by social democrats and agrarian movements has been conveniently forgotten. For awhile, SDE's website was playing an ad showing Tony Blair and Tarja Halonen as to explain to Estonians that it's ok to vote for them

plasma-jack ütles ...

I don't know about Estonia though - it seems to be like a Pavlovian reaction there to equate even the mildest (and historically anti-communist) leftism directly with Lenin and Stalin.

I think I've also heard that Barack Obama was a commie. Not to mention his wife's terrorist fist jab.

Lingüista ütles ...

So what do Estonians think about the stars of the leftist/social-democrat movement in Western Europe -- people like Tony Blair? Do they also inspire distrust?

tdesc16 ütles ...

There is no right-wing or left-wing parties in Estonia as it's understood in the West. I remember the slogan of supposedly "center-right" Reform party used at the latest Riigikogu elections: "Better salaries for everyone!".

peedu ütles ...

Heard a cruel joke today :)
What's the capital of Iceland?

- About 10 bucks.


But yes, Iceland case gets more interesting by the day. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir certainly seems like a fascinating character.

Giustino ütles ...

There is no right-wing or left-wing parties in Estonia as it's understood in the West.

I think "the West" is a sketchy concept to begin with, but nationally-minded, or patriotic, or right-wing parties (whatever you wish to call them) have been quite popular across Europe over the past few decades. That doesn't mean that Le Pen is the same as Pia Kjærsgaard or that she is the same as Laar. But when France, Denmark, and Estonia all adopt policies explicitly to protect the national language and encourage "immigrants" (equally as subjective a term in France and even Denmark) to assimilate, then one might argue that you have a pan-European political trend.

Lingüista ütles ...

Don't forget the Netherlands, who after Pim Fortuyn's death also became more keen on promoting assimilation (new language tests as a precondition for any immigrant, etc.).

taavet ütles ...

Giustino,
I am following another iceland blog too:
http://economicdisaster.wordpress.com/
It gives rather interesting and in-depth information about iceland's recent developments.

Iceland weather report is also worth of reading :)