Editorial: politician's hands

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1948 saw premiere of play by Jean-Paul Sartre named «Dirty Hands», political drama played out in a fictitious Balkan state during WW2. A key hero is communist leader Hoederer who opts to cooperate with foes in order to secure his party a place in the government. 

The play features an episode where the abovementioned hero is talking about his hands being dirty and arriving at the conclusion that it would indeed be impossible otherwise. «But what did you want? Can one remain innocent when governing?» he asks. Truly, corruption is an infection in a sense, spreading thru dirty hands.

In 2015, Estonia had a string of major corruption scandals erupt, the investigations of which are in varying stages. And let’s not forget that till convicted, none can be treated as guilty. The presumption of innocence does also apply towards the veteran politician and long-term Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar who last fall was fled a suspicion in acceptance of bribery. To this, they have now added suspicions of money laundering and acceptance of forbidden donations.

Regarding this, the lawyer defending Edgar Savisaar has said there’s essentially nothing new. As for Edgar Savisaar – an experienced politician – even a scandal may not be anything new. He has gotten out of plenty. Like the «recording scandal» back in 1995 when many missed the mark by proclaiming him a political corpse.

In that regard, Edgar Savisaar is a true Teflon politician with a true and proven body of admirers and electors formed thru the years – absolutely unshaken by whatever the man is accused in or what anybody says/writes. In their eyes, Mr Savisaar is primarily a spokesperson for the poor and the downtrodden, and therefore under pressure himself.

While we discuss all his sufferings and alleged offences, what we perhaps miss is the broader damage to the reputation of Tallinn and Estonia as a whole. Thus leading us to ask how we as a society look at this phenomenon called corruption. Sure, like Hoederer we may ask: «But what did you want, then. This is politics.»

But, then, we love to talk European values and about us being Nordic. And this would not be Nordic but – like in the play by Sartre – rather Balkan.

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KeywordsbalkancorruptiondirtyEdgar SavisaarestoniapoliticsTallinn
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