teisipäev, juuni 09, 2009

inglid ja deemonid

Even though I have lived here in Estonia for two and a half years, and my wife and two daughters are all Estonian citizens, those fascisti up on Toompea have not yet bestowed upon me the right to vote in European parliamentary elections.

Nevertheless, I have eagerly followed the elections of Estonia's six delegates this year and was surprised by independent candidate Indrek Tarand's awesome victory.

It is said that Tarand -- with whom, like every other human in Estonia, I have exchanged e-mails -- achieved victory with only 40,000 measly Estonian kroons.

This is only partly true. He also had a string of quasi endorsements from the Estonian media and rode high on a wave of popularity nurtured by his role as a TV host. Finally, one can never forget that Tarand was disciplined by the University of Tartu for bringing candles to the grave of War of Independence hero Julius Kuperjanov back in the Soviet era.

In every county and city, save Tallinn, Ida Virumaa, and Võrumaa, Tarand won. He beat the Center Party's lead candidate, Edgar Savisaar, also known as his wife, Vilja Savisaar. He beat Tunne Kellam, the free-coffee-distributing wise conservative, and Ivari Padar, the personal-hygiene-ignoring passionate social democrat. Why, he even beat Kristina Ojuland, the dancing liberal.

The Estonian punditry is now lining up to argue that his performance is an indictment of current lackluster party politics, and maybe they are right. For years now, Estonians have been voting against the other candidates. It's like my brother-in-law explained one day: "I have to vote for Isamaa Res Publica Liit in Tartumaa to cancel out the votes for Keskerakond in Ida Virumaa."

It's a political landscape where everyone seems arrogant and a little crooked. You've got to hedge your bets. Tarand, though, has also been accused of arrogance. And I am not sure if, independent candidates aside, it could be any other way. I mean, it is politics we're talking about here.

And so Estonia will send a TV show host to Brussels, along with someone named Savisaar, a farmer from Võrumaa, a dancing liberal, a coffee-distributing conservative, and others. The people have made their choice.

22 kommentaari:

Lingüista ütles ...

I like your take on the candidates! I especially think you're right in not mentioning whatever it is they promised they would do (is the Ida Virumaa candidate a pro-Russian rights activist?): as you point out, that's not how people chose candidates after all.

I've lived for over 6 years in the Netherlands, so, despite being Brazilian, I was awarded the right to vote in local elections -- I chose the GroenLinks candidate (better for foreign-born citizens).

Giustino ütles ...

I forgot to mention that Tarand named his son Julius. The guy's a patriot.

Unknown ütles ...

ehm... Tarand also danced, in the first season and was paired with Kaisa Oja. he was voted out in the first show though.

He runs the Ocupation Museum (or ran, at least, last I heard) and is rather proud of his army-career, which of course is mandatory for most males in Estonia, it's just that some people enjoy it more ;) and he's a historian like Meri, like Laar, like Lukas, Kelam and even Savisaar.

His father is Andres Tarand who is in the current Europarliament and Indrek Tarand used a lot of his father's projects as an example of what he could do. Besides, Andres Tarand had said that he wouldn't be running again so maybe Indrek got some of his votes from there as well. If I remember correctly, the Tarand clan also "includes" Juhan Viiding and Jaagup Kreem - not that THAT would influence a lot of people's votes, it's just to give an overview of just how much in the centre of Estonian intellectual/creative elite he is.

Jim Hass ütles ...

After watching Europarliament elections for 30 years now, I think I am about to give up trying to understand them. It seems that citizens vote so differently in E- elections than national elections, that they must have radically different ideas as to what they are doing, perhaps sending a protest, or indulging a personal phantasy, thinking about playing another role in an alternate universe. didn't KESK send half of the MEP'S last time? Does anyone expect UKIP to beat labour in the next British election? Do Estonians want a dancing revolution next? Please explain to an ignorant American what is going on.

plasma-jack ütles ...

[i]didn't KESK send half of the MEP'S last time?[/i]

No, it was social democrats, thanks to the current president Ilves who was running for EP. But they only got about 85 000 votes back then... Tarand had some 100 000 votes.

[i]Why, he even beat Kristina Ojuland, the dancing liberal.[/i]

Does anybody actually like the dancing liberal? I mean, anybody? I think that's why she was voted out of Estonia... Good riddance anyway.

Unknown ütles ...

But they only got about 85 000 votes back then... Tarand had some 100 000 votes.

Well, the activity back then was under 25% IIRC. Now it was similar to 43%. So Ilves actually got 1/3 of the vote whereas Tarand got 1/4 of it now.

Kristopher ütles ...

Now wait a second -- Indrek Tarand runs the Laidoner Museum in Viimsi.

Heiki Ahonen runs, created etc., the Museum of Occupations. Although Indrek is surely an OK guy from a solid, semi-dynastic Estonian family, Heiki was a freedom fighter and patriot on a whole 'nother level, doing time in Siberia.

Giustino ütles ...

I've met Heiki as well. And his wife. My favorite Ahonen dissident story is about how they would send home photos of Swedish supermarkets in the 80s (they were in exile in Stockhom). I can imagine how people's eyes would light up looking at the never-ending corridors of cereal boxes!

Unknown ütles ...

dammit, I knew a time would come when not researching every single factoid in my comment would come and bite me in the backside.

sorry Heiki!

Martasmimi ütles ...

Martasmimi ütles...
...your daughters are American citizens as well.

Justin ütles ...

I think the elections were indeed sort of a protest against the parties in power (though Reform did get a seat), which is not surprising given the current state of the government and economy.

The problem I have with how the elections are run is that the parties put on the ballot their most popular names (i.e. Edgar Savisaar) with no intention that the person will actually go to serve in the job you are electing them for. Edgar Savisaar indicated before the election that if he was elected, he wouldn't be going to Brussels so they'd find someone else to take his place. So... why run if you don't plan to serve?

Even more flawed is that his replacement is someone who was also on the ballot (Vilja) who didn't earn enough votes to win... but now she "wins" anyway by taking Edgar's place.

Doesn't seem like a very good implementation of democracy to me, if you the people you vote to represent you don't in fact end up representing you.

Unknown ütles ...

Andres Tarand´s wife Mari Tarand and Jaagup Kreems mother Anni Kreem are sisters and Juhan Viiding was their brother :)

Unknown ütles ...

Doesn't seem like a very good implementation of democracy to me

It's because the Russkies only know the word Etkar. You say "politics" and they think "Etkar". You try to debate it and they probably remember what Etkar has said on it. Thus it's logical that Etkar would run too... or well, not run. But his face has to be on the picture to give the general anti-Estonian seal of approval.

Anonüümne ütles ...

I think the fact that he is wearing a Charlie Brown shirt is a definite plus. Charlie Brown for European Parliament!:analyzed

Unknown ütles ...

Talking about Etkar :), last week I came out of the shopping centre and just outside the doors were that Edgarjugend, couple of russian boys and girl of age 18 or so, Keskerakond jackets on with some papers in their hands and approached me and said: Zdrastvuite, Tere (in both languages though I look very much like one genuine west-estonian), continued in estonian and asked "do you LIKE Edgar- kas teile meeldib Edgar". I wanted to laugh and ask if I look like I could, but instead of that just blurted Nooooooo and laughed all the way to home. Some sort of popularity poll :D?

Lingüista ütles ...

What does "Etkar" do that wins so much approval from the Russian-speaking people in Estonia? Does he speak Russian? Is he campaigning for immediate citizenship to all Russian-speaking people? What's his take on Estonia-Russia relations?

Sorry to ask so many questions -- I'm just a curious outsider.

plasma-jack ütles ...

What does "Etkar" do that wins so much approval from the Russian-speaking people in Estonia? Does he speak Russian?

He does, but so do Laar and Ansip.

Is he campaigning for immediate citizenship to all Russian-speaking people? What's his take on Estonia-Russia relations?

What does "Etkar" do that wins so much approval from the Russian-speaking people in Estonia? Does he speak Russian? Is he campaigning for immediate citizenship to all Russian-speaking people? What's his take on Estonia-Russia relations?

That they could be better. Anyway, the centrists are the only major party that has considerable numbers of non-Estonian members, including in parliament. It's worth mentioning here that they also have more women in their leadership than any other party... so although I hate to say that, they look the most inclusive.

plasma-jack ütles ...

By the way: Latvia sent Tatjana Zhdanoka back to Brussels (and Luxembourg). Lithuania sent Viktor Uspaskih and Finland sent Timo Soini. The Estonian results are looking quite good in this light.

Lingüista ütles ...

Aside from that Zhdanoka vs. Latvia case in which the court ruling implied that Latvia indeed had been occupied, I don't know much about what she does in the EP. Is she one of those constantly agitating for Russians' rights?

fandaal ütles ...

Well, I am one of those Estonian Russians) But surprise, I am a member of Social Democratic Party.
The reason I don't vote for Kesk is that I don't see any real results from them in supporting Russian education and Russian language opportunities in Estonia. And Kesk also has some connections with disgusting FSB regime in Russia, and is generally non-European and corrupted political force.
One of the problems of Estonian political landscape is that there are very few parties to vote for, especially if you are Russian.
A free market proponent should choose between Pro Patria and Reform, and they have both shown very negative and xenophobic attitude to us.

Lingüista ütles ...

I'm curious about your take on the topic, fandaal, since you are a Russian Estonian. Why do you say both Pro Patria and Reform have shown anti-Russian or xenophobic attitudes? What have they done?

fandaal ütles ...

Well, they have very antirussian language policy views. There are constant attempts to destroy system of Russian education. And the manner Reform resolved Monument crisis was also very irresponsible, both in rethorics and in actions. And Pro Patria is openly Estonian nationalist party, so their views are pretty clear.
They don't understand that assimilation policy will never succeed. Realistic goal is to integrate citizens with Russian ethnic identity in Estonian society, and efforts in this direction were partially successfull(the use of Estonian language has clearly increased).