pühapäev, märts 01, 2009

the choice of a new generation

The European parliamentary election season has already begun, and so I am increasingly bombarded with signs and newspapers advertising various candidates.

Isamaa and Res Publica Liit has been the first to begin advertising in a bold way. One of their candidates is Karoli Hindriks, a 25-year-old entrepreneur, perhaps best known for running MTV Eesti.

If Hindriks is any kind of example, then Estonian political advertising has come a long way from the "plats puhtaks" campaigns of the 1990s, or even the juicy economic populism of 2007. Because seeing Hindriks' advertisements, one would not know exactly why you should vote for her other than that she seems like a charismatic personality.

Perhaps this is the legacy of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Who really wanted to say, "no, I can't" to Obama's "yes, we can"? Even if you had your doubts, the way in which the candidate was marketed to you made you put them aside. Resumes suddenly did not count as much. What counted was that the candidate had "it." Hillary didn't have "it"; John McCain certainly lacked "it", but Obama was the "it" candidate extraordinaire.

To date, most Estonian politicians follow a few tracks to public life. There are the academics and the journalists and the career politicians and the business leaders that went to Tallinn to work things from the other side. But, increasingly, you see Estonian politicians coming out of the business community, where many held roles in sales and marketing. And their approach to politics does not differ much from their approach to their former jobs. They sell their candidacies the same way they might sell a perfume or a car or a TV channel.

I was struck recently by an editorial in which a representative for the Ministry of Population and Ethnic Affairs wrote that they now viewed Estonian citizenship as a "commodity" that had to be "advertised" and "sold" to the country's remaining 105,000 stateless persons on the grounds that it would somehow enhance their lifestyle: it would give them access to opportunities they wouldn't have otherwise.

And the truth is that the Minister of Population and Ethnic Affairs' prior gig to going to work in government was running Saint-Gobain's Estonian office. Her specialties are in advertising, marketing, and international business administration. The contacts of these younger politicians from the private sector also find their way into government and they think the same way. They will work in the public sector the same way they did in the private sector because that is what they know how to do.

Estonia's Swedish-bankrolled economic boom of the last decade may have come to an end during the past year, but the perspective acquired by its young people who came of age during that era will remain and is now increasingly manifesting itself in politics. And so in a few years time, the Estonian state may come to be run in a way that is not significantly different from how Swedbank or MTV Eesti has been run. I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

26 kommentaari:

Inner monologue ütles ...

Nice analysis.

In the end it is all good. It's time to replace savisaar-like whales in politics with angelic nymphlets like this one. Politics is fluff anyway no matter what.

At least we get a better visual to go along with all that kräpp.

Rein Batuut ütles ...

I think there should be an age limit to being a politician. Say, 35. And having children might also be obligatory. Hindriks sounds sort of okay despite being 25 but there are people in our Riigikogu who are 22 and have nothing in their history suggesting why they ought to have any control over the fate of a whole nation. Luckily they don't, they're probably just dummies for voting. Which automatically leads to the next question - why the hell are there 101 MPs...

Martin ütles ...

101 MPs is way too many, but you don't want to have too few either, otherwise the pool of MPs out of which to select ministers becomes too small. Probably between 65 to 75 would be an optimal number.

PS, Have to say Karoli Hindriks looks like Puu's twin sister...

Giustino ütles ...

I think Eiki Nestor recently made the case for 81.

Jim Hass ütles ...

"we sold president eisenhower like a box of soap"
was the main story from the fifties in US political circles.

I guess convergence with the West continues in ways good and bad. There are better and worse reasons to vote for officials than liking them as people. With a fast-moving world situation, politicians are not sure of what else to do.

Have facebook campaigns arrived in Estonia?

Giustino ütles ...

Yes. I am now "friends" with Laar and Mihkelson. For some reason, the IRL people are the most marketing savvy, though we shouldn't forget Savisaar's Christmas card.

Overall, I don't think it is bad, Jim. There are a lot of Soviet-era dinosaurs that need to be put out to pasture. This may be one of the ways by which they become obsolete.

Puu ütles ...

At the same time though, a lot of the people from the late Soviet era ( the eighties) where actually more competent than some of the people that got put in in the nineties, this is true in Russia but also probably in Estonia( I just don't like talking about Estonia because it's so small).

Kristopher ütles ...

I think there should be 1.x million MPs. Isn't that the goal, to have the people decide, now that it is technologically possible and most everyone has a mobile phone if not a computer? Not that I want to take away anyone's nice job, but...

PS, Have to say Karoli Hindriks looks like Puu's twin sister...

Puu's more of a punk rock grrl, I think. Hindriks looks like a total yuppie.

Inner monologue ütles ...

Puu has a little heart tattoo, a tiny nose ring and scars on her wrists.

She does not like to talk about small things. Like Estonia, for example.

She is an embittered idealist.

Like me.

(Sans tattoos, nose ring and suicide scars).

Martin ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Martin ütles ...

Giustino ütles...

Overall, I don't think it is bad, Jim. There are a lot of Soviet-era dinosaurs that need to be put out to pasture. This may be one of the ways by which they become obsolete.


Got to agree here. I suspect there may be a few Soviet era aparatchiks lurking out there still pining for their old rank and status of KGB Colonel.

Karoli may be a bit young, but the key quality is that MPs know how to articulate and represent their constituents' views and interests, not their own. If Karoli can do that, then I'd vote for her. (A naughty little tattoo and piecing would be a nice touch, hubba hubba)

Sérgio Meira ütles ...

Got to agree here. I suspect there may be a few Soviet era aparatchiks lurking out there still pining for their old rank and status of KGB Colonel.
Yes, like härra Simm. He might be a good post topic for Giustino. Is his case going to help Estonia in the European Union -- by showing Estonians can find and deactivate moles -- or is it going to make Estonia look worse -- by showing that there are still people around from the old Soviet times who might actually be selling NATO secrets?

Puu ütles ...

No tatoos yet( though I do sort of pine to go all trendy and emo and bjork groupie and get a vegsvisir-because it would be nice not to get lost in the fog-anyone know of any estonian compass tattoos?), I just have my ears pierced and the only one with suicidal tendencies is my Egyptian neighbor who hung on my windowsill buck naked this summer( while I was in bed! Thank god I have bars on the window!) and I live on the fifth floor ( and he was on my windowsill not my fire escape!). He ran up the fire escape after I went for a kitchen knife.This goes to show I don't take kindly to sexual harassment, and is a shame really because I considered him a friend and got cheeseburgers at his deli, which I no longer do.

Giustino ütles ...

He might be a good post topic for Giustino. Is his case going to help Estonia in the European Union -- by showing Estonians can find and deactivate moles -- or is it going to make Estonia look worse -- by showing that there are still people around from the old Soviet times who might actually be selling NATO secrets?

1. Estonia has demonstrated that it is an open society. The Economist is correct in that this will win plaudits from the intelligence community. I guarantee you that some neighboring countries are just as chock full of old Soviet connections, but that they would never dare to hold the photos of SVR agents up for the cameras so they could be broadcast on the evening news. Which brings us to point 2.

2. It is extremely naive to think that these Soviet-era links aren't in existence in all European countries. The problem is that in cases like Finland, we just don't know and will never know because YLE news announcers would probably never hold up photos of SVR agents or broadcast a videotaped statement from a spy convicted of treason. Which is why ...

3. Putin has got to be hating this. He's a former spook. One of Russia's main business partners is an ex-Stasi officer. These guys deplore openness. They want everything to be negotiated through their backroom Soviet-era contacts. Still.

4. The issue for Simm in the eyes of the West is that there was no national boundary between him and his Russian handlers. He acculturated enough as a Soviet-era officer that he could easily work for the SVR and few Westerners could detect it. Now ...

5. Let's take a detour to Meri and Ilves. Meri was half Estonian Swede. He had a Swedish personal name. Ilves was born in Stockholm. He grew up in the US. They were seen as trustworthy in the eyes of the West because of these personal connections. They were and are "us." But ...

6. What about Ukraine? Like it or not, the Russians will always know more about what is going on in Ukraine than we do; because of language, because of culture, because of proximity and history. They can always be a step ahead of us there, because of our unfamiliarity with Ukraine.

The West in the Ukraine is just as clumsy as the Russians might seem in Scandinavia -- where the Anglos and Saxons will always have the upper hand.

Andres ütles ...

The way those photos were made public raised some questions in my head. I mean, that's not the way it's done in Hollywood movies. Shouldn't military intelligence and Teabeamet agents hunt those guys down in Prague or Barcelona and stage a quick assassination or smth? Shouldn't KAPO wait silently while they enter Estonia to talk with Simm and then send their quick response teams to shoot them all in a restaurant massacre of some sorts. They never issue public arrest warrants for spies in the movies. This makes spying look kind of boring :(

Giustino ütles ...

I read that they already have them in custody.

Andres ütles ...

Where did you read that?

Giustino ütles ...

Here.

"Simm's Russian contact was identified by Estonian authorities this week as Sergei Yakovlev, alias Portuguese entrepreneur Antonio de Jesus Amorett Graf, resident in Madrid, and Simm's handler since 2002. "Le Nouvel Observateur" said its sources suggest Yakovlev has been arrested and is waiting to be exchanged for a Western agent in Russia."

Mingus ütles ...

I like how the American president of Estonia limited the democratic elections to the EU Parliament. You can't vote for a candidate anymore, but just a party. Ultimately, Savisaar for ex. will be the decider.

Justin ütles ...

In general, there's nothing wrong with some younger people coming into political power. However, I don't think Ms. Hindriks is a good candidate.

She just doesn't have that much experience. Her "business experience" consists of starting a company that makes reflectors that people put on their jackets (not exactly the world's hugest conglomerate.. more like a "pet" business), and then going to MTV. However, MTV gets lower ratings than even Seitse (another music channel) last I checked. They are likely bleeding money and I'm not sure she's done anything to turn this around. Note that Seitse has no programming basically -- it's just music and could be run by one guy who programs a video playlist into the computer every week.

Her political experience consists of serving on the Pärnu town council for a bit, but Pärnu isn't that big (even Kohtla-Järve had a higher population according to stat.ee) so it's still child's play.

This is an important position, as it is representing Estonia in the Europe. Who do you think Germany, UK, etc are sending for this position? I can guarantee it's someone with more experience than someone who ran a company to make pretty reflectors.

Inner monologue ütles ...

She'll sleep with Shroeder and we'll get all the investments we ever wanted and then some.

Don't you know what is Estonia's Nokia? I hope you do not make me spell it out.

So there you go.

Hindriks rules. The power of "Estonian Nokia" is intoxicatingly powerful.

Let her do ... khkhkh ... use her thing. Its all good. :-)

Puu ütles ...

Inner Monologue.... what the fuck is wrong with you?
Justin,as opposed to Guistino, on the other hand, makes some valid points.

Inner monologue ütles ...

No, wait. The question is what the FUCK is wrong with YOU? Woman.

Will you marry me?


So that I we can immediately divorce and I can turn all my posessions over to you and pay your court costs.

Obvious benefit being that there won't be any broken hearted children involved.

Let's do it, puu.

Puu ütles ...

Don't you have something better to do?

Inner monologue ütles ...

You are right. I do, and I should get right on with it. We are all guilty of wasting valuable time surfing the net.

sonikrave ütles ...

I think we should give it a try for Karoli Hindriks. Estonia is in need of a new generation of politicians that are able to consider the needs of entrepreneurship.

I just hope that this will be not another story of a young woman to fail miserably in her career, ending up as a full time houswift that you may hear only from time to time as the "beib" of the month on topgirl.ee or something like that.

Her I also see some valid point in "inner monolgue" message. The "beibekultuur" I consider as tendencially misogynistic.

It starts also to get a bit annoying after a while, to see in all mayor media these exhibitionism pictures all the time. Today again the top story is Lilit Kaaret in kroonika online, that was last week already the front-page story in 6htuleht weekend print edition.

Everyday these kinda sexualizing stories, from "Unistuste Printsess" to "Kes on edevaim mees".

And if there are stories from political events, it is usually about the dresses. That sells sex, but not an advent of democracy.