MP Warns of Deteriorating Political Culture
Eestlased Eestis 21 May 2012  EWR
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Ott Tammik, ERR News
MP Andres Herkel, a member of the IRL leadership, says he is concerned about the health of Estonia's political landscape, in which, he said, parties increasingly operate as closed and businesslike institutions, burning the bridge with society and losing sight of values.

Herkel said politics are stagnating, and that Estonia needs fresh people and ideas. One source of rejuvenation can be found in the third sector and in civic participation, he said.

But, in one instance, Parliament recently neglected to show interest for standpoints from the third sector, Herkel said, when both coalition and opposition parties endorsed a new law that allocates additional funding for parties to create their own NGOs. The third sector itself, including critics such as Transparency International, shunned the law.

Herkel also expressed concern over the internal affairs of his own party - the nationalist-conservative IRL, a member of the ruling coalition - as some conservative voters have been alienated and valuable members have left the party.

Formed in 2006 with the merging of Pro Patria Union and Res Publica, a political rift has remained, resulting in a party crisis last year. In February, 60 party members, including former MPs, pulled out of IRL.

“Unfortunately, I have not seen a new direction come up; the party chair has not found the reset button,” said Herkel.

Herkel said he supports Urmas Reinsalu - who took over as IRL leader in January and as defense minister last week - but party politics can't be changed for the better by only one individual, he said.

"Reinsalu has made an effort for an active relationship with the party, and I still believe that he would like to see changes,” Herkel told "Unfortunately, the chairman's efforts by themselves are not enough if the style and decision-makers do not change on other leadership levels.”
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