neljapäev, oktoober 22, 2009

the hardest working man in show business

I was asked earlier this week on Terevisioon, ETV's daily morning news and entertainment program, what I thought about Estonian politics, like I could actually muster an articulate sentence in Estonian about such things.

If I had been a bit sharper at 8.20 am, after zooming north through a snow storm in central Estonia blasting James Brown at the crack of dawn, I might have said something like this.

The most interesting dance in Estonian politics right now is taking place in Tallinn, where Edgar Savisaar's victorious Centre Party has invited Jüri Pihl's Social Democrats to negotiations on forming a center-left coalition in the Tallinn City Government.

Why is it interesting? Because if the results of the 2011 parliamentary election are anything like last week's municipal election results -- where Centre received 31.5 percent of all votes cast in Estonia, followed distantly by Reform at 16.7 percent, IRL at 13.9 percent, and SDE at 7.5 percent -- then a KESK-SDE coalition in Tallinn could be a trial run for a similar coalition in the next parliament.

In some ways, a center-left coalition in Estonian politics has been a long-time coming. For the past 10 years, Estonia has either been led by conservatives or liberals, partially due to to the success of their policies and partly due to a weak, polarized political left. But, as in all parliamentary democracies, the pendulum swings. Eighteen years of Thatcher and Major in Britain gave way to the past 12 years of Blair and Brown. If Estonia is to grow up politically, it must come to terms with the idea that the national idea is bigger than its right wing politics. It can't just have the liberals and the conservatives rotating seats until the end of time.

Savisaar has earned a lot of "political capital," as W. would say, but how he spends it will have a major effect on Estonian politics. Thanks in part to his victory many parties could have less reservations about cooperating with a political force referred to as roheline koletis -- the "green monster" -- both for its colors and its approach to governance.

For SDE, which was tossed out of the ruling coalition in May, it makes sense to at least entertain the idea of a center-left coalition in Tallinn. They are in a weak position, and yet, at a national level, they did better this time around than they did in 2005. Besides, the most common critiques of Savisaar's party -- that they are arrogant, uncooperative, and out to fill their own pockets -- are often lobbed at SDE's former partners, Reform, who fired them. So what exactly do they have to lose? That was the argument SDE founder Marju Lauristin made to the party list this week.

As for the agrarian Rahvaliit and the Greens, they are in an even less favorable position. Both of these parties are on life support, Any invitation to share power with the big vote winner will probably be welcomed. Having party members in power creates the impression of competence, and competence is a major factor in winning a person's vote. For all of these parties, the opportunity to have even a little power could translate to future electoral victory. Rahvaliit, as of my writing this, has already been asked to merge with the Centrists. That will give Savisaar's party a modicum of support in places like Jõgevamaa, where Rahvaliit, for some odd reason, continues to win.

At the same time, the Centrists still don't seem to get the point that they may have won the most votes, but that doesn't mean they have the authority of a national salvation committee. It's hard to pick the most embarassing moment so far, and it's only been a few days. Was it the call for early elections or Centre's clumsy overtures to form a coalition with IRL (which were immediately rebuffed)? Don't worry, there'll be more of them. And as they pile up, the people's memories will stack the decks in favor of the sweet boom years, paving the way for the eventual return of right-wing rule.

And what of the right-wing parties? It wasn't a total loss for them. In Tartu, Estonia's second biggest city, Reform solidly held onto its position as the leading party. It also won the most votes in Võru, Viljandi, Kuressaare, Haapsalu, and other towns. IRL, too, did not fare poorly. And, they should take any loss to Savisaar as a temporary set back as Savisaar's base includes two large divisions of people that continue to decline in numbers, pensioners and Estonian Russians.

The current crop of pensioners are people who spent most of their adult lives in service to the ESSR. But the next group of pensioners, those who came of age during the Singing Revolution, are unlikely to shift their allegiance to the roheline koletis. As for the myth of the Russian "fifth column," as of Jan. 1, 2009, but 36 percent of Tallinners identify themselves as ethnic Russians. Savisaar can continue to pander to them (I saw one advertisement strongly hinting at the relaxing of naturalization requirements), but it's not a recipe for a long-lasting majority.

The decline of the base is Savisaar's weak point. His political campaigns create the illusion of a state beset by anarchy where huge masses of have-nots join hands and overcome the starry-eyed Friedmanites that assuage everyone that, if we just follow the holy scripture of Saint Milton, everything will turn out alright. But, unfortunately for Savisaar, the masses aren't that huge, and he manages to capture their votes because they exist in places where rival parties dare not tread.

If Reform, IRL, SDE or even the Greens seriously put some efforts into attracting candidates that could compete in Centre Party strongholds, then they wouldn't get their asses so severely kicked in municipal elections.

So here are some suggestions for next time. These are very simple thoughts, forgive me. Ahem.

Reform's keyword is "reform." Once they get new leadership, they might be able to sell "reform," as most aspects of Estonian life require reforms. It's such a simple point, they themselves might have missed it. They can stick to their liberal principles, too, but also think of ways to attract voters who aren't wowed by references to economic theory. It's not unthinkable.

IRL? You'd think their keyword would be Isamaa -- "fatherland" -- but I would say their keyword should be "integrity." That's why people vote for Mart Laar -- because they believe he won't ever sell out the national interest. They should be the party of good governance. They should call other parties on every sleazy real estate deal, every sell out of Estonia. There are people who vote for Centre who know quite well how corrupt their politicians are. They just need to be called on it.

SDE? Their key word is "solidarity." If they stopped dressing up in bogus red and actually went door to door, they might be able to get people to believe in their values. They should spend less time at Tallinn wine and cheese events and more time in Estonia's shanty towns. Get a bus and go on a listening tour of Võrumaa or Ida Virumaa. I'm sure the people there will have a lot to share.

This will all take time. But I do believe a day will come when the green monster will lose big in districts it once held captive. And they'll deserve it.

69 kommentaari:

ranno ütles ...

I was in US when GWB was re-elected. My friends across the country told me that they didn't know anyone who knew anyone who would vote for him, and somehow he won.

And now in Estonia, I don't know anyone who knows anyone who would vote for Savisaar, ..and somehow over half of the voters in Tallinn voted for him.

I am very happy to living in Tartu.

Andrew ütles ...

Centre Party aren't left wing, they're purely populist. Estonia needs a proper left wing party, to provide an alternative for those who don't like economic liberalism. I just wish that those people who voted for Keskerakond realised that they will not benefit one bit. All the spoils will go to property developers who construct buildings with collapsing ceilings.

Pierce Bacchus ütles ...

My wife, ethnic Estonian, thinks Savisaar is good at making himself seem as "one of the people." He goes to kiosks and is photographed eating crap and hands out potatoes or whatever. Certainly to win votes, but people have a sense he is real.

Ansip is antiseptic. Seems OCD and can't wash his hands enough after having touched the local populace. Wife can't stand him.

She'd love to vote for the guy in the middle, but he doesn't exist. Sort of doesn't matter since she sees all the parties as corrupt. Each to a different degree and way, but all still corrupt enough to be untrustworty.

And it's always one of the same few guys. Musical chairs so who cares.

I think a new political party is in order. One where all members running for office have been born after 1980.

Pierce Bacchus ütles ...

Yeah, and quit bragging about the snowstorm. Tallinn's had none. I really need to move to a colder part of this country.

Lingüista ütles ...

Very well written and interesting post, Giustino. I always learn a lot about this country by reading your blog!

Since I love to nit-pick on spelling and suchlike... you've got one "soldily" instead of "solidly" in the text.

Only 36% ethnic Russians in Tallinn? I'm wondering if someday they won't become so few that they'll really qualify as an endangered minority. With all the consequent pathos.

I'm really curious about what will happen as more and more post-Independence-born people become politicians and/or politically active.

Andres ütles ...

Pierce, Res Publica is so 2003. Also, if you don't include Tallinn and cities of Ida-Virumaa, Keskerakond didn't dominate at all. The election unions did, followed by Reform and IRL. 114k of the 207k votes Kesk got were from Tallinn, 22k from Narva. Sure, that's a big proportion of the electorate (658k people voted), but it's mostly concentrated in the Russian-speaking parts of Estonia. Everywhere else it was not so dramatic. That's usually what makes Estonians frustrated. You know that nobody voted those guys but god damn, they're still in charge. The problem is that people don't interact with the people living in Lasnamäe or Kohtla-Järve. Or maybe they don't interact with us? Kind of like religious hicks don't interact with townspeople in the US if somebody already used that example.

Lingüista ütles ...

Andres, I'm curious--doesn't everybody have Russian friends in Tallinn? There are so many of them, they can't be all in Lasnamäe; and even if they were, they also work elsewhere.

Or is the mistrust still high, from both sides?

(One imagines Russians would report the opposite phenomenon -- they don't know anyone who knows someone who won't vote for Savisaar...)

bunsen_lamp ütles ...

Ma arvan, et praegune valitsus on liiga kaua pukis istunud. Mehhikos on selline erakond nagu Institutsionaalne Revolutsioonipartei (PRI), mis valitses vahetpidamata aastatel 1929 - 2000. Meie reform/isamaa on samuti muutunud institutsionaalseks, mis on ũks halb asi. Oleks aeg Savikas pukki lasta ja ise opositsioonis värsket usutavust hankida. Küll siis KE ennast mõne aastaga täis teeb ja Vestmann jälle peale saab. (Kirjutasin selle kommentaari eesti keeles, kuna Eesti asju tuleb ikka arutada eesti keeles.)

Kristopher ütles ...

Kahjuks ei usu keegi, et Savisaar ei reeda Eesti riiki. Enda sisemuses teab igaüks seda, ma pakuksin. Vastasel korral oleksin demokraatia ja vahetuse nimel nõus igasuguste vähemusvalitsustega katsetada.

Ja minu meelest on Keskerakond põliselt Tallinnat juhtinud viimased 10 aastat (kuigi ma võin siinkohal natuke eksida) ja keegi ei sellest midagi õppinud.

Meelis ütles ...

"As for the myth of the Russian "fifth column," as of Jan. 1, 2009, but 36 percent of Tallinners identify themselves as ethnic Russians."
According to the Population Register as of January 2009 there was 404011 inhabitants in Tallinn, from them 210745 ethnic Estonians (52,16 %). Other are so-called "Russian-speakers". Most of the people, who voted for Centrist Party in Tallinn, were ethnically not Estonians.

Colm ütles ...

Pity I missed you on the TV. Not that I watch morning tv but still I would have made the effort knowing you'd be on. But hey, Google/YT is a great thing.....click here

Rainer ütles ...

Giustino, is there anything you can't do?

Giustino ütles ...

According to the Population Register as of January 2009 there was 404011 inhabitants in Tallinn, from them 210745 ethnic Estonians (52,16 %). Other are so-called "Russian-speakers".

According to the Estonian Statistical Office, Tallinn has 398,594 residents, of whom 219,000 (55 percent) are Estonians, 144,937 (36 percent) are Russians, 14,000 (3.5 percent) are Ukrainians, 7,400 are Belorussians, 2,300 are Finns, etc.

In contrast, in 1989, Tallinn had 499,400 inhabitants, of whom about 233,700 (46.8 percent) were Estonians and about 207,500 (41.5 percent) were Russians.

That means that today there are 14,000 less Estonians in Tallinn than there were in 1989, but 62,000 less Estonian Russians than there were 20 years ago.

That's what I mean by shrinking base. It probably will continue to shrink because, think about it, if your family moved to Tallinn for better jobs and higher living standards, then why wouldn't you move again to someplace even better -- Germany, the UK, even the US?

Most of the people, who voted for Centrist Party in Tallinn, were ethnically not Estonians.

That is true. But what do the other parties offer them? They're not going to vote for IRL, and they are definitely not going to vote for Ansip's Reform Party. SDE doesn't have the money to be competitive. And Savisaar has the blessing of United Russia.

Meelis ütles ...

Yes, I know that according to Estonian Statistical Office at January 1st 2009 in Tallinn was 398594 inhabitants and from them 219900 ethnic Estonians.
But do you know, how they have received this figure? This is based on result of year 2000 population census and natural decrease/increase have been added. Migration has not at all taken into account.

Meelis ütles ...

And when we are talking about elections, then we must take into account, that people are voting there, where they are registrated in Population Register

Giustino ütles ...

I wonder if I am counted in the Population Register. And how do they determine the nationality of people that have Estonian citizenship (say, Ukrainians) if they are in the registry? Do they actually ask you for your "nationality" somewhere along the line? It would be interesting if Estonia stopped recording that data altogether. I know in Denmark, they only ask if you are a member of the state church.

Liina ütles ...

I just watched your interview in the Terevisioon - your estonian language is so good! Amazing! I really admire you (not to mention how I enjoy your blog posts).

Meelis ütles ...

"Do they actually ask you for your "nationality" somewhere along the line?"
When there was population census in 2000, then one question was "rahvus" (ethnic nationality).
And in Population Register database "rahvus" and "kodakondsus" (citizenship) are on different lines. In multhi-ethnic society is important to have exact statistical data about ethnic structure of population. Otherwise all kinds of rumours and false information can spread etc.

viimneliivlane ütles ...

For those who missed Giustino on Terevisioon this past Monday morning, in addition to demonstrating good Estonian, he also sang a song he wrote to guitar accompaniment, however not with a political bent.

Lingüista ütles ...

Is Giustino's interview online? Can someone give us a link to it?

Giustino ütles ...

And in Population Register database "rahvus" and "kodakondsus" (citizenship) are on different lines. In multhi-ethnic society is important to have exact statistical data about ethnic structure of population. Otherwise all kinds of rumours and false information can spread etc.

I always take such categories with a grain of salt. For one, there's the extremely broad "Russian speakers" category, which includes such diverse (and often antagonistic) nationalities as Russians, Georgians, Ukrainians, Jews, etc.

Then there are the "Tsarist Era" Russians who have been here, in some cases, for hundreds of years. In places like Kallaste, Mustvee, and Peipsiääre Vald, they are the majority. And they don't necessarily see things the same way as the Tallinn Russophone community.

Then there's the "Estonian" category, which some people treat as some pure, indigenous group of people, but which actually can include basically anybody who's assimilated. Estonian Swedes, Setos, Ingrian Finns, Roma, even Estonian Russians.

I guess these categories are self reported. Seems like it.

Justin ütles ...

The most popular baby names in September were Aleksandr and Maria (based on birth certificates). I think there's no risk of the Russian-speaking population in Estonia declining too rapidly.

Andres ütles ...

Maria is a popular Estonian name to be honest. And Russian boys don't get much other names than Aleksandr, Vladimir and Ivan. So that statistics doesn't tell the whole truth.

Meelis ütles ...

"The most popular baby names in September were Aleksandr and Maria"
I looked up this press release. The most popular name in September was still Aleksander, not Aleksandr.
And one must not forget, that Estonians have many different first names. But Russians' choice of first names is quite limited.

Giustino ütles ...

People are choosing 'international' names for their children. I know a lot of little Estonian girls named Maria, and some big ones as well. Needless to say, if there's another Petrone, there's a good chance she'll be a Maria, too.

I just want to be clear -- I am not forecasting the total decline of the Estonian Russian population. I am just saying that the myth of this huge fifth column is false. And the myth serves the purposes of the Estonian right (to scare people into voting for them) and the Russian right (to de-legitimize the Estonian state).

People still are trying to figure out the whole minority issue. For most of the country, there are no minorities -- they are far away. So, it's not exactly a national issue, but a local issue -- local to Tallinn, local to Ida Viru cities.

The problem as I see it, is these national parties -- Reform, IRL, SDE -- have a hard time being competitive in these local environments. They don't have convincing candidates they can run in Tallinn who say "we are all Tallinners" and look legitimate. I mean, SDE ran Pihl, who is from Saaremaa. If he had run for mayor of Kuressaare, he might have got more votes!

Andres ütles ...

And Savisaar who lives at Hundisilma in Lääne-Virumaa is a convincing candidate in Lasnamäe? It has nothing to do with where anybody lives. It has everything to do with the illusion that they will once be great and everybody will eventually speak Russian to them in Estonia. Savisaar isn't saying that word-for-word, but he's giving hints and not denying it. And by that he is further dividing Estonia in my opinion since the rhetoric he uses for the Estonian audience and the Russian audience is HUGELY different. The trouble here is that an overwhelming part of his electorate isn't educated and smart enough to figure that out.

Myst ütles ...

Pihl is from Saaremaa? I thought he was from the police! :-P

Giustino ütles ...

And Savisaar who lives at Hundisilma in Lääne-Virumaa is a convincing candidate in Lasnamäe?

I thought Savikas was born and bred near Tallinn.

It has nothing to do with where anybody lives. It has everything to do with the illusion that they will once be great and everybody will eventually speak Russian to them in Estonia.

Ha. That's not even possible!

Like I said, Savisaar is good at pandering. But he'll always have a good excuse if he has coalition partners ("I'd like to give you everything, but my coalition partners wouldn't let me.")

stockholm slender ütles ...

I think it's only natural that opposition gets eventually popular, especially if times are bad. Savisaar might actually be useful for Estonia in that he gets also russophones to participate in national politics. That is integration in action. Is there any particular reason to think that he would actually betray Estonia? It is surely not treason to advocate a different policy towards the Russians and even Kremlin? (Naturally, I'm thinking about Kekkonen here, who certainly wasn't bought by Moscow as unscrupulously as he used his connections there.)

Andres ütles ...

Savisaar was born in the Harku prison near Tallinn. But his mother was from Vastse-Kuuste, Põlvamaa and Savisaar got his education in Tartu. And at the moment he owns a country house at Hundisilma.

Meelis ütles ...

"I thought Savikas was born and bred near Tallinn"
Edgar Savisaar was born in Harku prison near Tallinn, where his mother was imprisoned. Soon after Edgar's birth Maria Savisaar get amnesty and they were released and returned to their home in South Estonia (Põlvamaa, Vaste-Kuuste).
From Tartu to Tallinn moved Edgar Savisaar in 1979 or 1980.

Andres ütles ...

Hundisilma is actually the name of the farm (Wolf's Eye). It's actually in Eru village.

http://et.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Savisaar

Andres ütles ...

Ha. That's not even possible!

It's the de facto situation at the moment. The local government talks to them in Russian, the banks and companies talk to them in Russian. The only pesky little institution that doesn't want to comply is the national government. Rakvere is over 80% Estonian, yet the voice announcements in the local construction material shop Bauhof are also in Russian. In Tallinn almost everything is bilingual. It's not impossible, on the local level where non-citizens and Russians citizens can vote it has already happened.

Pierce Bacchus ütles ...

It's the de facto situation at the moment. The local government talks to them in Russian, the banks and companies talk to them in Russian. The only pesky little institution that doesn't want to comply is the national government. Rakvere is over 80% Estonian, yet the voice announcements in the local construction material shop Bauhof are also in Russian. In Tallinn almost everything is bilingual. It's not impossible, on the local level where non-citizens and Russians citizens can vote it has already happened.

You're absolutely correct. I'm a huge supporter of Estonia and the language. However, Tallinn (I can't speak for any other area of Estonia) is a bilingual city.

No one needs to make Russian or anything else an official language. When any area has a large enough minority language, business will accommodate it and the market will dictate it.

I don't advocate adding official languages, because it's unnecessary. Estonian should be the national language, but demographics and market forces have come into play and made Tallinn bilingual. Given Estonia's location, I think it's more of an asset than a liability.

Giustino ütles ...

It's the de facto situation at the moment. The local government talks to them in Russian, the banks and companies talk to them in Russian.

You're right, but I would clarify that people who know Russian in those organizations, businesses, institutions do. Not "everybody" in Estonia. I am saying it's impossible to expect "everybody" in Estonia to speak Russian. It was in the 1890s, and the 1970s, and today.

There are usually people on staff who are competent enough to deal with customers who prefer Russian. I remember when I bought paint at the aforementioned Bauhof. The girl behind the counter didn't speak Russian, so she referred the customer to the guy in the paints department that did, which I think is a fine strategy.

The state could operate the same way. I wouldnt mind if the state served businesses in Swedish, either, considering they are the largest investor group. If you want to attract foreign investments, there you go.

In Tallinn almost everything is bilingual. It's not impossible, on the local level where non-citizens and Russians citizens can vote it has already happened.

And it would be if half the town was German, too. In fact, it used to be that way, didn't it? And it could be again, should some other minority group decide to relocate.

Like I said, people with a certain competence serve those with specific language needs, just as most of the Estonian staff on the Tallink ferries to Stockholm speak Swedish, and those who travel to Finland speak Finnish.

I have no problem with the state adjusting to serve the needs of different groups. It's just the state sees itself as trying to set the reality. It sees itself as the only institution in Estonia capable of setting language policies.

If the German lords could make their Estonian peasants speak German in the marketplace, and if the Russian all-union factory owners could make Estonians speak Russian in the factories, so the state thinks that it might be able to make Russian speak Estonian in the classroom.

And in a lot of ways it has been successful. Or you could argue it hasn't, and that the market demand for the Estonian language has just made so many non-native speakers pick it up. I mean it is Estonia, where mostly Estonians live. This is Tartu, where I bet close to 90 percent of the residents speak Estonian. It's not some figment of the nationalist imagination.

Meelis ütles ...

"If the German lords could make their Estonian peasants speak German in the marketplace"
Estonian peasants did not speak German. Baltic German noblemen spoke to peasants in broken Estonian.

Pierce Bacchus ütles ...

My impression of Savissar is that he risked his life (and he did) for Estonian freedom so he could be dictator. I imagine he had Lukashenko aspirations.

Can anyone tell me what was Savissar's stance on joining the EU back in the day?

Andres ütles ...

Savisaar was an EU-sceptic, although in an article I found, he thinks it brings some good like proportional income tax and a Russian minority solution will be pressed upon the Estonian nationalists.

tartuense ütles ...

The solution to beating Savisaar and KE in Tallinn is very simple, all the other parties should unite to form a coalition, then they would outvote the Russian vote. This is precisely why the SDE should not join in power now, it will loose them votes in the long run. KE just wants touse any other political party to make it seem as if they are consensus seeking which they are truly not.
A true power in Estonian politics would be those young people who voted for Indrek Tarand in the EU MEP elections, they actually beat KE if you cosider he was a single candidate and spent 0.001% of waht KE spent.

Evil Purc ütles ...

"Estonian peasants did not speak German. Baltic German noblemen spoke to peasants in broken Estonian."

Actually it went both ways, but often the Estonians that spoke German gradually began to identify themselves as German because being German was'nt so much of an ethnic issue, rather it was an issue of social class. Like the noble family of Maydell who actually derived from ancient pre-christian Estonian nobles (duh, maidel means fish in Estonian and the coat of arms of the family also depicts fish, it's not a name of German origin as much as they would have liked it to be). There are actually examples of German nobles completely assimilating into the Estonian peasantry also within a few generations. And yes, a lot of the German nobles interacted with Estonians in Estonian.

Giustino ütles ...

I don't think most of Estonia views politial life through an ethnic prism. Keskerakond is competitive in most places, and most places in Estonia don't have a "Russian vote." So, like I said, it's up for the parties to be competitive in Tallinn. If you lose an eletion, it really is your own fault.

peedu ütles ...

Link to the interview, starts when 40 minutes is left.

http://etv.err.ee/arhiiv.php?id=98952

Lingüista ütles ...

Great interview! I didn't know you had written a book in Estonian already, Giustino. I'm really envious. :-)

Giustino ütles ...

By the way, political analyst Inno Tähismaa has a piece on the return of the Popular Front (Rahvarinne). Great minds think alike!

Andres ütles ...

Aren't the Tähismaas in Keskerakond too?

Myst ütles ...

I think they're not in Keskerakond yet, but certainly employed by them, it seems. Since the filth cannon is always aimed at KE's major rivals, never at KE.

"Political analyst Inno Tähismaa"? :-))

Andres ütles ...

Irja ja Inno Tähismaa astusid Keskerakonda
11. august 2009 08:26
http://publik.delfi.ee/news/inimesed/article.php?id=25045641

So they're little eager propagandawriters.

Doris ütles ...

eh... I really don't see what the humongous deal is. Kesikud always win and almost always fall flat on their faces in Parliament elections as well. And every time there's the talk about the current coalition breaking down because (as usual) Savip2ts has gotten all the votes in Tallinn.

Myst ütles ...

I think 2011 is surely Savisaar's big chance. The one he's been waiting for for close to 20 years..

A lot will depend, of course, on what happens to the economy in 2010, and whether we qualify for the Euro or not. (That will also pretty much determine Ansip's place in history, in my opinion -- either as "a total failure" or.. "alright" :-))

Let's also keep in mind that the previous salary based unemployment benefits of most of the victims of this recession will run out in the next 6 months, after which they'll be forced to survive on... what is it? 1000 EEK per month? Which is impossible. So by the time of the next Riigikogu elections, we might have a social catastrophe on our hands. Unless the economy recovers really quite rapidly!

But maybe it's not so bad. I've voted for right wing parties (Reform, Res Publica, IRL) all my life, but I wouldn't mind a turn to the left now. We need to consolidate, I think, grow in solidarity, refocus on developing our "human capital", Finland-style.

I had always hoped that when this time came, sotsid would be the ones taking over. But since they're useless, I guess it'll have to be the Rhino..

Oh well. He's talked a lot about the Finnish model over the years. And he's done a lot to implement the Belorussian model.. Here's hoping Taara helps him see the light when the time comes!

Brüno ütles ...

What? You will not name your daughter Epp? Or Aet, or Anu?

How about Eve?

I once knew a girl named õnnela.

Now about Krõõt? That should rhyme in love songs with something...

(I bet Martasmimi is shouting "Hell no" right now :-))

Andres ütles ...

As an interesting turn Keskerakond's support if the parliament elections would be held tomorrow, dropped in October and Reformierakond took the lead, according to a survey. Strange as Kesk won the election.

Myst ütles ...

"According to a survey" being the relevant phrase.. :-) Saar-Poll is nicknamed Saar-Loll for a reason. :-) Although this one was done by Emor, I think.

Myst ütles ...

for a reason


The reason probably being that they usually neglect to share information about their sample size and the consequent margin for error. Say, 1000 people and margin for error of 5% (or whatever it actually is for such a sample size).

Or maybe it's the news media's fault. "Reform at 25% (+/- 5%), Kesk at 24% (+/- 5%)" doesn't have the same ring to it "Reform now more popular than Kesk", does it. :-)

Brüno ütles ...

Worth noting ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj4crMCg-XY

John ütles ...

I think 2011 is surely Savisaar's big chance.

If his health endures. That's a very big 'if'. One of the doctors who treated Mr. Savisaar for a dizzy spell this year also treated Ariel Sharon in the month before the final stroke which felled him and said it is difficult for him to say, which man has the worse arterial plaques. Savisaar refuses to have a second bypass or make corrections in his lifestyle -- both the Russian and Western physicians are in total agreement that this is essential, it is rare, such agreement -- and he also suffers from pulmonary and cerebral hypertension. I believe both the expression "grave but stable condition" and "moribund" were used in his medical protocol, which has been kept from the public.

Justin ütles ...

I think 2011 is surely Savisaar's big chance.

Agreed, and I also agree it's going to come down to the state of the economy.

I think some portion of Kesk's big win last week was not so much people voting pro-Kesk, but against everybody else. I realize Kesk already had power in Tallinn, but I think it was a vote against the national government in general.

One item worth considering is that non-citizens are not eligible to vote in parliamentary elections, but are eligible in city elections. I bet most non-citizens are the Russian-speaking minority that makes up a big part of Kesk's base, which can explain why they often don't perform as well when it comes to national elections.

Giustino ütles ...

One item worth considering is that non-citizens are not eligible to vote in parliamentary elections, but are eligible in city elections. I bet most non-citizens are the Russian-speaking minority that makes up a big part of Kesk's base, which can explain why they often don't perform as well when it comes to national elections.

It's not just non-citizens, it's all permanent residents, regardless of citizenship.

According to this document, 76 percent of Tallinn residents are Estonian citizens, 12 percent have undetermined citizenship, and 8 percent are Russian citizens.

In this way, even if all those stateless voters could vote for parliament, it still wouldn't be equal to the outcome of the municipal vote, which includes the votes of citizens of other countries (Americans, too).

Lingüista ütles ...

I didn't know Savisaar's health was so bad. It makes me feel curious: were he to drop from the scene, what would happen to KE's chances of keeping its sex appeal for its target public? Is there anyone who would jump into Edgar's shoes and continue his work? Or would everybody sigh and vote Reformierakond instead?

Myst ütles ...

Were Savisaar to leave the scene for whatever reason, surely Keskerakond would go on. I'm guessing with either Jüri Ratas or Kadri Simson as leader.

Ratas is one of the two leading kesikud I have any respect for (the other being Toomas Varek). Young guy, bright, has a conscience. http://www.ratas.ee/ Simson is probably best described simply as unpleasant.. http://kadrisimson.blogspot.com/

Of course without Savisaar, they wouldn't have half the appeal! Or maybe they would have half. If you see what I mean... And sotsid would probably be the biggest beneficiaries from this.

Pipe ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Pipe ütles ...

Giustino: I was glued to the TV for the lenght of the interview, even though I was risking being late for work. I watched with a mix of envy (at both you speaking Estonian so well as to write a book and having your guitar here --I miss mine dearly--) and hope (that it is not impossible to achieve both). My very sincere congratulations! You are some sort of hero...
As to Estonian politics, although I cannot understand much of what I read or hear, I cannot help but see some uncanny resemblance between the Keskerarond and the Peronists back home: no defined ideology, having both the allegiance of "the poor/outcast" and big business (suspicion of corruption), transgressor, populist, and (very important) centered in its leader and vertically disciplined. Peron in 1945-47 capitalized on the low class resentment against the ruling elite, fagocited the labor movement with carrot and stick (which included betraying Cipriano Reyes, who was imprisioned until 1955) and was supported by the crony capitalism of industrialists (some fleeing Germany and Italy). He then went on to wreck the country in a populist frenzy, where the outcasts received toys and government housing, and cronies were awarded fat contracts. And then his opponents did him the biggest favour in history when they organized a coup when his power was waning, making him a martyr. Generations of Argentines still vote for peronists because grandma received her first doll from Evita, or because greatgrandpa lost his job when Peron fell.
There are many parallels with Edgarikene (change toys with küttepuud and you get the idea). I just hope Estonians don't make the same mistakes Argentines did in the late 40s. My advice to SDE and Rahvaliit, in a vertically integrated party there is no place for two leaders; you risk being fagocited. My advice to RK and IRL: (i) don't ignore the outcasts, because even if they cannot vote now, their children will and they won't vote you; (ii) don't give KE excuses to behave improperly by not behaving improperly, (iii) don't think that because Estonia is so far in the road to development that a populist government cannot wreck it, it can (see Peron, Chavez and countless others), (iv) you need to find better PR (or at least matching to KE's) and represent some ideal worth fighting for in the mind of the common person ("euro accession" does not sound so nice as "Yes we can", if you know what I mean). In that sense, I think Giustino is right on the money.
Ok, too much anti-peronist rant for one day... Saludos!

Myst ütles ...

12 points for Mr. Pipe.

Myst ütles ...

Why, I'd go even as far as to say 12 points to Mr. Pipe. :-)

Pipe ütles ...

Tänan teile, Mr. Myst, although...
12 points out of how many? :)

Myst ütles ...

12 is all I had, Sir. They're good points too! None of your cheap Chinese rubbish -- these are fine Italian points, hand-crafted from cheese and leather. :-P

tartuense ütles ...

The whole of Keskerakond party politics are quite populist and disgusting. Ratas is the only one out of a huge pile of demagogues, ridiculous singers, sports people and comedians (should they really be in Riigikogu?). And attack-dogs such as Kadri Simson. I would also like to see a new and modern left in Estonia, but Kesk are not it. They are pedalling fast back to soviet times, and if they gain national power, we would be back to being something less than Belorussia or Kaliningrad. (Savisaar was effectively a soviet PM of Estonia in the 80's).
If the Sotsid join in a coalition they will be doing themselves a great disservice, as even they have publicly said that in any coalition with Kesk in Tallinn their voice would not be heard and they would quickly be shut up.
Fortunately, parliament votes are not dominated by non-citizens and there is less risk of the same happening at the state level. Russian politicians in Russia even advice Russians in Estonia not to vote for Russian parties but for Savisaar since then they gain disproportional influence:
http://www.eesti.ca/?op=article&articleid=25774
I can't vote since I've only lived here for 3.5 years, but if I could it would certainly not be the state party Kesk. I think a Nordic or Scandinavian model would be fine, but that is not what the Kesk espouse, they are for old-time populism and cronyism. Estonia needs to be modern and innovative, not flat on ideas. If the opposition would have had a united candidate things would have been different in the Tallinn vote.
Things in Tartu and fortunately a bit better.

Giustino ütles ...

If the Sotsid join in a coalition they will be doing themselves a great disservice, as even they have publicly said that in any coalition with Kesk in Tallinn their voice would not be heard and they would quickly be shut up.

The problem is that Ansip fired them back in May. Now they have nowhere else to go, other than just wait around for some successor of Ansip to take them back. That was his mistake.

One issue is that I just can't see Savisaar fulfilling the duties of a PM. As far as I know, his only "foreign" language is Russian. I have a feeling he would wind up leaning heavily on his foreign minister.

Myst ütles ...

The real question in my view is why can't sotsid whip up any sort of serious popular support for themselves when conditions seem perfect for the rise of an honest-looking leftist party.

marion ütles ...

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