pühapäev, märts 08, 2009

capo di tutti i capi

The Estonian Social Democratic Party selected a new party leader over the weekend, Jüri Pihl, the sitting Minister of the Interior.

Curious about this development, I decided to read through the comments on Postimees and Eesti Päevaleht about what the average Estonian thinks of Pihl.

In summary, they think his 15-year career in police surveillance in Eesti NSV plus his post-independence role in building up Estonia's Security Police board, Kaitsepolitseiamet or "KAPO" for short, would make him a more fitting head of a politseiriik [police state] party, than the party of Padar and Palo, not that they particularly like those two sotsid either. (Commenters tend to be pretty conservative in their views).

I personally thought Pihl would have suffered politically from the Hermann Simm case, if only because any association with pre-independence Soviet structures, particularly in the police or military, renders one suspicious in Estonian political discourse.

However, I noticed that the issue of Eesti Ekpsress prior to Pihl's ascent to party chair had a lovely story about the 55-year-old Pihl and his wife, 33-year-old prosecutor Lavly Lepp. I have a gut instinct that, for many of Estonia's winning generation, this relationship is reassuring. To them, Pihl is no longer an old mustachioed KAPO director from Kuressaare -- he's a nice guy with a cool wife who, according to some sources, enjoys grilling and talking with friends. They've got it all, in the words of Ekspress, just like Bogart and Bacall.

Pihl also is, for an Estonian, somewhat charismatic and, most importantly, he seems to know what he is doing. The "I know what I am doing" factor goes a long way in politics in any country, and is worth more politically than ideological commitments to a party platform. Even though many Estonian voters perhaps do not think Prime Minister Andrus Ansip knows what he's doing, he has stayed in office since 2005 largely due to his ability to project that he is in charge. Liberalism? Social Democracy? 'Tis but garnish for decisive leadership, sõprad.

I have a feeling the Sotsid who agreed to elevate Pihl to the leadership position felt a similar way. Sure, Pihl's kind of new and he has a shadowy law enforcement past. But nobody wants to mess with him, and he looks like he can win. And what good is a political party with no votes?

16 kommentaari:

plasma-jack ütles ...

"prokurör" is not a lawyer, she's a state prosecutor.

Giustino ütles ...

Ah, but one article referred to her as a juurist. Thanks.

Evil Purc ütles ...

A prosecutor (prokurör) is also a lawyer (jurist) because a lawyer is somebody who has studied law.

Instructor ütles ...

I've talked to several Estonian in political circles, and every one of them said that a) people are afraid of crossing Pihl, because he knows where all the political bodies are buried;
b) has a volcanic temper; think of Hitler in "Der Untergang"
c) and in that light; SDP should just add "National" to the front of their party title.

For what it's worth.

Giustino ütles ...

Pihl also seems to have some kind of Saaremaa following, akin to Padar's Võrumaa entourage. It would be nice to see the political patronage go outside of Tallinn and Tartu for a change. I want to hear of crooked deals involving Kihelkonna fishermen!

bunsen_lamp ütles ...

I know only a douchebag would pick on somebody's name but what kind of a name is Lavly? It's not a traditional name in any language I know, certainly not a traditional Estonian name. The big, mighty and evil USSR couldn't prevent them yokels giving their children laughable names back in what, 1975? What kind of a bad ass dictatorship was this supposed to be, then? It's like -- lets write her name like it's pronounced in English but write it with fancy-schmancy "y" instead of common "i." Gimme a fucking break.

Marcus ütles ...

Like my wise and not so old mother says: May that be the biggest evil that befalls us

@ bunsen_lamp

Giustino ütles ...

well, fellas, here's your big chance to ask Jüri these important questions.

KRISTIN ütles ...

I just think he looks scary and I wouldn't want to meet him in person. I also think that appearance mirrors person's inner persona.

nipi ütles ...

I think that if Pihl will join forces with Bureshin, they will lose more than gain from partnership (sure, that then I won't go to elections). In case, Bureshin quits and Pihl deals with others, it can even be possible.

Giustino ütles ...

That's an interesting construct. Ansip served in a coalition with Savisaar for two years, then ran against his coalition partner to win the '07 elections. How would Reform Party members explain their dislike of Savisaar and the fact that, historically, it has been their party that has worked most with Savisaar's (aside from Rahvaliit)?

Instructor ütles ...

Off topic: I just saw a report on this Russian kid, Sergei Metlev, who had the temerity to criticize the Russian ambassador, and now the weight of his high school is coming down on him.
I hope you have an occasion to address it, Giustino, on your blog.

Giustino ütles ...

Seriously, I don't want to stick my nose in the integration mess and all its poorly constructed analogies. I think Flasher from Antyx is best positioned to tackle that issue, as he is trilingual, and can read all the nasty comments he wants to. And since he actually is Russophone and young, he can lecture freely with authority.

Inner monologue ütles ...

A must see. http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=221516&title=jim-cramer-unedited-interview

Tatsutahime ütles ...

Excuse me, but I think it is too polite to say "Pihl also is, for an Estonian, somewhat charismatic" - for a person who is the contrary of charisma.

Giustino ütles ...

This is Jüri and Lavly's song.