Eesti Elu
To vote or not to vote? That is the question that’s easy to answer
Arvamus 18 Feb 2011  Eesti Elu
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Vello: “Nah, I’m not going to vote. There’s no point to it.”

Mikk: “What’re you talking about. Of course there’s a point to it. If everybody thought like you we’d have no Estonian parliament.”

Vello: “But my single vote. It’s a drop in the ocean.”

Mikk: “Yeah, and so’s everyone’s. You know that if you don’t vote, someone else’s vote will do the voting for you. You have to support the issues you want to advance. If we don’t vote then those supporting another agenda will get the vote. That’s simple arithmetic. The voting will be done by the ultra-activists on both sides of the political spectrum, some with extremist causes. If we don’t vote then were abrogating the right to the professional picketers and the Moscow- influenced fringe that push the anti-Estonian agenda. These hyper-activists and others of the same ilk always go to the ballot box.”

Vello: “So, the worst that can happen is single party rule.”

Mikk: “Tallinn has been saddled with this for years, a one party autocracy, where rampant political nepotism is firmly entrenched, where the pork barrel is enjoyed by businesses in favour with the municipal power brokers.”

Vello: “But I know so little about Estonian politics. How do I choose?”

Mikk: “It’s all on the web, even in English. For us abroad, the issues aren’t that complex. I think all the parties have at least one common platform issue – they all promise their own best way to come out of the economic crisis. Interestingly enough exports were at a record high last year. Even trade with Russia is growing at a fast pace, in spite of the doomsayers who predicted a trade catastrophe after the Bronze soldier was moved in 2007. So actually the government record on economic revival has been applauded by many outside observers.”

Vello: “You sound like a PR hack for the current government.”

Mikk: “Well I have serious personal concerns also. The unemployment levels, although significantly improved over 12 months, are still unacceptably high. The rapid growth of trade with Russia, probably benefits many businesses and helps the trade balance. But Estonia shouldn’t become dependent on Russian trade, like it was pre-1991,

Vello: “So what’s important for us.”

Mikk: “Well, what about Estonia’s ability to remain Estonian, to protect its cultural integrity. There are forces in Estonia who want the country to become officially a two language state, where all public communications should be done in Russian also. I’m convinced that official bilingualism doesn’t work. Many experts insist that a deterioration in language is accompanied by a decline in culture.”

Vello: “That’s not enough. What Else?”

Mikk: “Well, some parties are more attuned to the concerns of us abroad. I personally think that Estonian national security is one of our major worries. Also the need for Estonia to continue consolidating its position as a western-oriented democracy is vital. And although many might disagree, a few remnants of Soviet heritage, like corruption, linger here and there among some decision makers.”

Vello: “But should we have the right to even voice these concerns? We don’t live in Estonia and don’t suffer the same hardships.”

Mikk: “Listen, the Estonian parliament has given us these rights, and they expect us to vote – all of us. Your right to vote means you also have a duty to vote. It’s that simple.”

Vello: “But you still haven’t told me who to vote for.”

Mikk: “Talk to someone who reads Eesti Elu, or visits www.eesti.ca. Both have English language sections. It should be quite clear who to vote for.”

Vello: “OK, you talked me into it. What do I need and where do I go?”

Mikk: “If you have an Estonian passport, just go to Esto House in Toronto on February 22 and 23, between 11:00 am and 8:00 pm. If you don’t have a passport, bring along documents which show you were born in pre-war Estonia or that you are a citizen by birthright, i.e. that you’re a descendant of someone born in pre-war Estonia. In fact let’s meet there and I’ll buy the first round at the Esto House pub.”
 
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