Estonia, right now, is experiencing a period of transition that will lay the foundation perhaps for the next 20 years.
Seemingly overnight changes are taking place that make the past seem more distant than it really is. Change comes in many forms. My bank, for example, is no longer Hansapank. It's now Swedbank. Even the ATM signs have been changed. It is as if Hansapank never existed.
The currency in use is now the kroon, but within a few years time it could be the euro, and the Estonian currency will go the way of the markka or the lire. The legal tender we hold in our hands will soon be anachronistic.
Slowly, the next "present" is being stitched together. And, some day, the current Ansip government will seem as distant as the Vähi or Siiman or Kallas governments. People will wonder whatever happened to various party apparatchiks. Maybe they've gone back to academia or the private sector. Because of various events during the past four years, though, the Ansip years may be looked upon with greater controversy, but that is only for time to tell.
Political change is occurring today. By sacking Ministers Ivari Padar, Jüri Pihl, and Urve Palo, Prime Minister Ansip sends the Social Democrats into opposition with the likes of the center-left Center Party and the Greens. Together, they have 46 votes in the Riigikogu, but all poll well, and could perform better in the 2011 elections, especially with the discrediting of the "miracle economy" shepherded by the "financial experts."
I expect this group of parties will do well in the European parliamentary elections and the municipal ones in the fall. Moreover, it creates the opportunity for the first time since 1991 for Estonia to form a "red-green" coalition. And, interestingly, this coalition will have resulted from today's sacking. Things are not well between Reform and SDE. I don't envision the riff healing anytime soon.
The conventional wisdom is that SDE preferred to form governments with Reform and IRL because of their distaste for the Centrists. It's probably true. SDE and the Centrists also compete for the same votes. Meantime, the Estonian media generally favors the conservative parties; even though Reform is rumored to run a state-capture enterprise as successful as Savisaar's, it is less publicized.
Most nordic countries, nay, most European countries have red-green coalitions. One has just taken power in Iceland, for instance. If anything, Estonia's cast of revolving coalitions over the past two decades have been anomalies from a political perspective. Liberals, conservatives, and social democrats in the same coalition? Sounds odd, right? It is. From my perspective, both teams have their unsavory qualities. The bottom line is that I don't expect the political constellations of the past decades to hold. Too many people now have a motive to kill the status quo.