neljapäev, mai 21, 2009

cycles of rebirth

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.

9 kommentaari:

Lingüista ütles ...

This change may be in a sense the end of the "idealism" of the circum-independence years, the late '80s and early '90s. If you read descriptions of those times, it feels as if everybody were dreamy-eyed idealists inebriated with the sweet wine of freedom, all congratulating each other with the successful fight against the Soviet system.

Maybe politicians looked more like fighters and leaders then. Now, with a crisis, Estonia looks a lot more like other European countries who don't always like and/or trust their politicians in government. The '80s and '90s are receding into history, and Estonia is becoming more like a country which has, well, politics as always. :-)

I came to the Netherlands while the currency was still the gulden. Now it's the euro. Many people still complain about that ('everything became waaay more expensive, and they covered it up with the currency change!'). There were names for the old coins -- dubbeltje, kwaartje, Rijksdaalder; some have been retained, but in a somewhat awkward fashion. Also, I miss the old 25-gulden bill!

Giustino ütles ...

The Dutch did have beautiful money.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Estonia nation is a strong nation, for all that you should try to find a solution with your own way. I believe Estonia nation can overcome the problem faced. The key to all of that is still trying, calm and patient

Unknown ütles ...

well... At least there's no more of the aimless "all's well but why the hell are we so dissatisfied" and "everything's going ok but not fast enough" kind of vague depressiony-feeling that seemed so overpowering during the Ryytel years, especially the last 3 of them... at least.

Now everyone knows the shit's hitting the fan but at least we're not as deep in it as Latvia.

Giustino ütles ...

Maybe a minority is the best option. IRL and Reform won't have to negotiate with anybody and can implode of their own accord, maybe just in time for the 2011 elections. I am sure several members of parliament can be persuaded to vote a certain way at opportune times.

Lingüista ütles ...

Is Estonia's situation totally independent of Latvia's? Or could a worsening situation there also have impacts in Estonia -- say, Latvians coming to Estonia to look for jobs?

It seems that everything bad hits Latvia harder and Estonia less hard -- with Lithuania usually occupying the middle.

LPR ütles ...

Ze vöörld äkoording tuu estõunjans ...

John Menzies ütles ...

I believe the narrator of that video is the son of the head of the ceremonial branch of government.

Ricardo ütles ...

1. The crisis is something that comes and passess. The most common mistake, almost a "universal" mistke in all newspaper, blogs, etc. is that the crisis is of a permanent nature. It is not. And because it is not permanent, it should not be answered with definitive and permanent changes.

2. I don't see why Estonian history of coalitions is bad or odd. Actually, there are many countries in Europe where coalitions are normal and have been the most common form of government. Consider Netherlands, Austria and Italy, for instance.

3. Finally, I don't see whether it must be that Estonia becomes more like the other European countries. Estonia is no less European than anywhere else. And its peculiarities are actually very much positive.