«Ain't no normal party» or why they're all greying

PHOTO: Graafika: PM

As for average age of members of Estonian political parties, time is mercilessly ticking towards pensions and retirements. During these past seven years, all have advanced in years with EKRE currently the oldest at 56 and Reform continually the youngest (41).

Since 2009, the Greens have aged the fastest i.e. by six years in average, followed by IRL (nearly 4) and Reform (3), Centre, soc dems and EKRE.

Your author asked his daughter aged 17 to ask her social media circles if they would be interested in joining a party.

Among the nearly 30 young people, the answers were rather similar and short: don’t care.

«Never. Ain't no normal party,» said a lady of 20.

«No, too dirty, not about to get tied to that,» wrote a girl of 17.

«Not interested in being involved, and being in a party would take some responsibility and willingness to do something, not just warming one’s butt,» said another, equally young.  

«Cannot tell what I’ll do some day, but no such plans right now,» said a man (19).

«I don’t believe I have the guts about my views so I could unshakeably stand for some party or some vision – I am too fluid,» wrote a man also 19.

«Not much of an activist, not inclined to be in politics. Overcome with own problems, to say nothing of the nation’s,» noted a man of 17.

A couple of exceptions were featured, such as: «Why not. Then, I’d be in Reform as titled the party of the successful by even Eiki Nestor,» said a lad of 18, already active in society.

And a joke: «Might be an idea some day. If a company won’t work, I’d have an easy way out.»

As confirmed by a political scientist and observer Priit Kallakas, the young are reluctant to join political parties. «The percentage of youth is ever declining, posing the threat of parties alienating from electorate,» he said, citing the 10–15 years perspective.

The alienation

Regrettably, however, «parties would no longer need membership to stay in power,» noted Mr Kallakas. «Decisions are taken in headquarters – parties will no longer depend on financing and lobbying by interest groups. Media campaigns and PR will do.»

As to prove the point, the memberships are shrinking rather surprisingly. Regarding last year: Reform lost 377 while mere 98 joined. Meanwhile, in 2010 they had almost 2,200 enter their ranks. Since 2013, Reform has lost over a thousand members.

Compared to February last year, Centre, EKRE and the Free have been the only parties to grow.

Meanwhile, Estonia ranks among five most «partying» nations in Europe with close to seven percent of electorate in membership.