It’s only a few weeks before the parliamentary election polls open for Estonians abroad to cast their vote. A question often asked is what makes Party x more attractive than Party y. In some respects the differences are subtle, in others, significant.
The following is a brief comparison of the main four parties, those that occupy places in the 101 seat parliament and have from the start (in alphabetical order):
Estonian Centre Party (Eesti Keskerakond): Edgar Savisaar, leader. Ideology – ‘Centrism/Social Liberalism/Populism’. (Ideology as defined by internet analysts: Agrarianism, Centrism, Populism.) Declares itself as a ‘middle class liberal party’ but most analysts see it as a left-wing party, perhaps even more than the Social Democrats; supported by 75% of ethnic-Russians; leading members support Russia’s ‘intervention’ in Ukraine. Campaign slogan – ‘We’ll do it differently”, (Teeme teisiti).
Estonian Reform Party (Eesti Reformierakond): Taavi Rõivas, leader. Ideology – ‘Classical Liberalism’. (Ideology as defined by internet analysts: Centre-Right, Classical Liberalism, Liberalism.) Ideology-positions: advocates market liberalism; supports zero percent corporate tax on re-invested income; wants to eliminate dividend tax; wants to lower 22% flat income tax rate; wants eventually to end subscription and establish a voluntary defence forces. Campaign slogan – ‘Steadily forward’, (Kindlalt edasi).
Social Democratic Party (Sotsiaaldemkoraatlik Erakond): Sven Mikser, leader. Ideology – ‘Social Democracy’. (Ideology as defined by internet analysts: Centre Left, Social Democracy, Third Way.) Purport to support social market economy; say they promote social justice, solidarity, the welfare state. Small Russian Party merged with them in in 2012. Currently part of coalition government. Campaign slogan – ‘Estonia for people’, (Inimeste Eesti).
Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica (Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit): Urmas Reinsalu, leader. Ideology – ‘Liberal Conservatism’. (Internet description: National Conservatism, Christian Democracy, Social Conservatism, Centre-right to Right Wing.) Label themselves as ‘right-wing conservative; value freedom, more than just freedom to make money; free enterprise; value social integrity, culture and traditions; support human centred society; want a strong national security. Campaign slogan – ‘Better education, better work, better pay’, (Parem haridus, parem töö, parem palk).
Political parties fielding candidates but not currently represented in parliament: Estonian Conservative People’s Party (Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond); Estonian Free Party (Eesti Vabaerakond); Estonian Green Party (Erakond Eestimaa Rohelised); Estonian Independence Party (Eesti Iseseisvusepartei); Estonian Union of the Left Party (Eesti Ühendatud Vasakpartei); Party of People’s Unity (Rahva Ühtsuse Partei).
In addition to candidates representing registered parties, 13 independent, non-affiliated candidates have also been confirmed as candidates in the parliamentary elections. A total of 874 candidates are contesting for the 101 places in parliament in 2015.
Results from 2011 parliamentary elections in descending order of votes won: Estonian Reform Party – 164,275, 28.6%; Estonian Centre Party – 134,090, 23.3%; Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica – 118,023, 20.5%; Social Democratic Party – 98,302, 17.1%; Estonian Green Party – 21,828, 3.8%; People’s Union of Estonia (Agrarian) – 12,192, 2.1%; Russian Party in Estonia – 5,027, 09%; Christian Democrats (Christian Democracy) – 2,927, 0.5%; Estonian Independence Party (Euroscepticism, Nationalism) – 2,569, 0.4%.
Do your citizen’s duty. Vote! In Toronto the polling station is open at Estonian House on Wednesday, February 18, from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, and on Thursday, February 19, during the same hours. In Ottawa the polling station is open at the Estonia Embassy on Saturday, February 14, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Tuesday, February 17, from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm.
How different from each other are Estonian political parties? Estonian Life