Toom says ethics code part of deal with Ratas

Yana Toom.

PHOTO: Liis Treimann

MEP and Center Party board member Yana Toom, who presented her ethics code to the board yesterday, wants to draw attention to improving political culture. The ethics code is part of a deal she made with PM Jüri Ratas.

When the “three sisters” initiative of Yana Toom, Oudekki Loone, and Olga Ivanova – to meet local elections with a list separate from that of the Center Party – was in the limelight on July 7 last year, Toom changed her mind at the last minute and announced she would not introduce a competing list.

A few weeks later, the board of the Center Party complemented its Tallinn election program with more than ten items proposed by Toom and decided to start working on a party ethics code.

Toom admitted yesterday, a day after the initial draft of the code was introduced, that it was part of her deal with Ratas and said she is glad to see the prime minister is a man of his word.

“It was part of our agreement with Jüri Ratas on what should change in the party. Jüri is keeping his word, and I’m very glad about that. The reason is that political culture in Estonia leaves a lot to be desired. That’s it, really,” Toom explained.

“Looking at recent Riigikogu elections campaigns, they tend to get very ugly: no matter who starts it and who goes along with it, it still gets ugly. Seen from Brussels, there is another way: I don’t know why we’re so mean and hung up on stereotypes,” Toom added.

The Center Party’s ethics code also makes mention of corruption. Looking at cases of corruption involving members of the Center Party, we asked Toom whether including corruption in the code could have any effect. “It can definitely have an effect. However, I do not agree that it is exclusively a Center Party problem. Problems concern the city of Tallinn recently. Tallinn is Estonia’s largest local government. We have plenty of corruption on the state level. Unfortunately. Center has simply been in power in Tallinn for the past decade. That does not mean everyone in the party is corrupt, certainly not,” Toom replied.

The code of ethics will remain open to proposals until it is put to a vote at the party’s council meeting on June 2. The ethics committee is made up of Yana Toom, Hanon Barabaner, Enn Eesmaa, Kaspar Kaugija, Kalle Klandorf, Mihhail Kõlvart, Oudekki Loone, Kersit Männik, Tarmo Tamm, and Toivo Tootsen.