Weekend full of politics

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Photo: Sander Ilvest

Politicians had a busy weekend that saw the Free Party meet in Rapla and the Estonian Diversity Party make its debut in Viljandi on Sunday and the four largest parliament parties hold their council meetings on Saturday – if the national conservatives, centrists and reformists met in the capital, the Social Democrat Party held its event in Pärnu.

Kaja Kallas: tax confusion sparked protest

Chairman of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas said at the party’s council meeting at Swissotel Tallinn that the party wants to represent active people at upcoming elections, whether they are entrepreneurs, employees, students or pensioners. Kallas said that recent confusion regarding taxes has caused people to protest, while protesters have reduced motivation to contribute to society.

“An Estonian protests silently, clenches their fist in their pocket and does not want to work with the government. A protester has reduced motivation to contribute to national defense or maintain tax discipline. We want to reverse the current government’s tax chaos and offer a better tax policy. We need to bring common sense back to state administration,” Kallas said. She also promised to pay attention to education by launching the transition to a common Estonian school system and by hiking salaries of teachers to €2,000 in four years.

Chairman of the party’s council Kristen Michal said that the main issue of upcoming Riigikogu elections is tearing down the chaotic tax system and lowering excise duties.

He said that the Reform Party has often met elections with a fluctuating rating but has always been able to mobilize its voters by election day.

Social Democrats will not compromise core values

Chairman of the Social Democrat Party (SDE) Jevgeni Ossinovski said on Saturday that Estonia has a choice between continuing as a free democracy or breaking down. He said that no other party is as devoted to protecting Estonia’s freedom and democracy.

“Our policy can be summed up in two words – freedoms and opportunities. Those two words are at the heart of the social democratic ideology and form the foundation of Estonian society,” Ossinovski said. “Parties will reach an agreement regarding socioeconomic matters after the elections. There can be no compromise in terms of core values, however.”

Rector of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences Katri Raik joined SDE and will run for parliament. Raik, who has managed the University of Tartu Narva College for 15 years and used to be a member of the IRL/Pro Patria, will run in East Viru County.

Free Party replaces Herkel

The Free Party elected Kaul Nurm as its new chairman in Rapla on Sunday. The recent deputy chairman took the position from Andres Herkel with 125 votes against 91. Third candidate Tarmo Kask had to settle for seven votes.

The party’s board is now made up of Elo Lutsepp, Andres Herkel, Vahur Kollom, Märt Läänemets, Jüri Adams, Ain Ostra, Enn Meri, Ants Erm, Neeme Kuningas and Raivo Kokser. Honorary court members are Epp Alatalu, Lembit Tuur, Eino Muruste and Jako Kull. Anne Hansberg, Peeter Liinsoo and Reelika Joakit make up the party’s revision committee.

The electronic in-house election was marred by attempts to falsify votes. The electoral committee identified two cases where an online vote was not cast by the right person. It remains unclear who got the false votes. Board, honorary court and revision committee elections saw some candidates separated by only a few votes, meaning that falsified votes could have affected the results. No candidate contested the vote and the results were approved.

Nurm said that the incident requires thorough investigation and the drawing of necessary conclusions. He did not believe it necessary to revoke election results, however. The new chairman aims to give the Free Party more than its current eight mandates in the next Riigikogu. He believes 12 seats to be a realistic target. Nurm said that the Free Party will stand apart from its competitors with a strong regional policy platform with which to gain voters’ trust.

Prime minister’s party coming around on e-voting

Prime Minister, Center Party Chairman Jüri Ratas urged members to stick together and avoid debates that conflict with the party’s interests during the runup to elections. Ratas said that the Center Party wants to lower motor fuel and alcohol excise duties to slow down general price advance.

Center, that has criticized Estonia’s e-voting system for years, decided that the increasingly popular instrument must develop and become more secure by adopting double servers.

The party’s council will be run by recent chairman Kersti Sarapuu and deputy chairmen Marika Tuus-Laul and Mihhail Korb.