Meet the parties for the 2017 Estonian local elections in Tallinn

In my previous article I was talking about the importance of voting for the upcoming local elections. I told you how to do it, and when to do it.

Now, let’s talk about the choices.

Keskerakond.

They’ve been in power in Tallinn since like forever. Edgar Saavisaar used to be their main guy, but his health is giving in, and therefore he’s no longer directly connected with Keskerakond.
The one thing you need to know about Keskerakond is that they’ve been in power in Tallinn for a long time. They are mostly a left-centrist party with social programs. They’re behind the free public transportation for Tallinners and have proposed an expansion of the public transportation and other social initiatives.
They typically always win in Tallinn because they get all the votes from the Russian speaking part of the population (about 50%). None of the other parties really cares for the Russian vote, so it’s extremely easy to win if you are the only party addressing this population.

I’ve always been baffled by this lack of strategic foresight from the other parties. Looking at their campaigns, this year will be a repeat of the same. 
The only difference is that they “lost” their “charismatic” “leader”. Edgar is no longer running with Keskerakond, after a string of scandals and bribery alegations. Apparently some politicians are corrupt… go figure…

In European elections they belong to ALDE, which is perhaps a bit surprising, since Reformierakond (their arch-nemesis in local elections) is also a member of ALDE in Europe. Perhaps they’re not that different after all…

Reformierakond

Reform, are the more liberal, economy focused party. Sort of center-right. They’re used to being in power on the national level, but Tallinn always seems to evade them. They’re not even actively courting russian speaking voters.

Sounding a little bit too much like EKRE

In fact one of their latest Facebook ads and a lot of their outdoors make use of specific language saying that they are the “anti-Keskerakond” party. They’ll get a lot of Estonian votes, but they’ll get 0 (zero) Russian votes. Therefore they will lose. Their deep-seated hatred of anything Keskerakond or Russia will be their own demise, has it has always been in past elections.

Anyway, if you’re a business man or woman and are used to vote for a “business first, people second” type of party, then this is probably your choice. Just like Keskerakond, they belong to ALDE in Europe.

Social Democrats

Classic Social Democratic party. Unfortunate choice of colours in Estonia. If you’re used to voting for Labour type parties, then this is probably your choice. Lots of social programs and “people first” type of innitiatives.

  • Social dems want more public transport and will build new tramway lines.
  • They also want to switch whole public sector of Tallinn to green energy by 2030 latest but will start now.
  • Build more recreational areas and the biggest skatepark in Tallinn.
  • For those of you with young kids and families they want to fix all the kindergartens and switch them to free healthy food, give every child voucher for free hobby course they can participate in.
  • Get rid of the propaganda machine associated with Keskerakond and the city of Tallinn (e.g. Tallinn TV), and last but not the least, give every teacher in kindergartens, social workers and child protection workers raise.
  • They also seem to be the only party interested in addressing the drug use issue in parts of the city.
    Their whole program is in (now) in English also

http://www.sotsid.ee/social-democratic-local-government-key-points/

IRL

Some years ago, this was a credible alternative to Reform and Keskerakond, but In Real Life they kind of lost their momentum and gave the liberal economy part to Reform, the nationalistic angst to EKRE, and the forward thinking to Vaba Erakond… They are part of the EPP in the European Parliament.

They are the only party so far with English language materials for the local elections in Tallinn (also in German for some reason)

You can check the entire program in Estonian, or a part of it with the main points in English on their website

Their 7 points for Tallinn are listed here:

We will replace the City Government of Edgar Savisaar and implement a plan to stop corruption and waste.
New successful companies, investments and jobs. Wewillreinstate professional and corruption-free city management. Professional management and honest leadership will ensure that more new businesses, investments and jobs come to Tallinn.
New homes in a dynamic urban environment.We will direct the city planners who are responsible for ensuring that the city is family-friendly and safe. The Tallinn seaside must become the main pillar of the new city space.
Good and secure transportation.We will direct specialists to organize the road and transportation networks so that people can get to workplaces, school and home in a reasonable amount of time.
The Estonian language can unite communities. Tallinn must ensure that all children, if their parents wish, can attend an Estonian-language pre-school or kindergarten close to home or to the parents’ workplace and that they will have mastered the Estonian language by the end of primary school. In cooperation with the state, we will create a Tallinn Estonian Language House.
Tallinn-Helsinki cooperation. We will work with the Estonian state, universities, entrepreneurs and the city of Helsinki to develop the Tallinn-Helsinki area into the center of science, technology, culture and business in the Baltic Sea region.
An environmentally friendly city. We will ensure that Tallinn has clean air, water and enough green spaces.

EKRE

The party we all love to hate. But that’s ok, they probably hate you too. If you’re less than 100% Estonian, then this is certainly not the party for you. Then again, what is 100% Estonian? So I guess that if you have a bit of ultra-right wing nationalistic, “our country first”, “immigrants go home” “Estonia for Estonians” and “Estonian women for Estonian men” vibe, then this might just be the party for you.

I honestly didn’t even go through their program, but I bet they’re not interested in making Tallinn a multicultural dynamic capital. Maybe their slogan is “Let’s make Tallinn Rapla again”

Vaba Erakond

All the non-Keskerakond parties want the same thing. End of corruption. This party is no exception

Green Party

Now these guys have something going on this year. The only party to actually add some colour to these elections (that colour being a cool green, not like the ugly Keskerakond green).

For years they were lost in the wilderness, perhaps they went to the woods and got high. Who knows…? I stopped voting for them a few years after moving to Estonia. They had lost all relevance, but now they seem to have made a comeback. They’re not running in all counties, but they’re betting strong in Tallinn. The program is obviously all about “green” eco innitiatives, like city gardens, more public spaces, more bikes, less cars.

Bottom line is, a wannabe Nordic country, needs a strong Green party. They’re not quite there yet, but I know that if you’re a Kalamaja hipster you’re gonna wanna vote for these guys.

Check out their wacky promotional video

Read the full Green Party’s 2017 program here

Smaller or independent parties

I didn’t have time to look into all of these, maybe in the near future I’ll update this article with some overview of all of them. But here is a list of all of the other parties running in Tallinn

Meie Tallinn

http://www.meietallinn.ee

Vaba Tallinna Kodanik

https://www.vtk.ee

Eesti Ellujäämise Erakond

Valimisliit Metroolinn

Apparently these guys want to build an actual metro system in Tallinn. That’s their only platform. Sounds crazy and I’m not a geologist (or a city planner) but good luck to them. They only have a few candidates running in some districts. But I welcome this “single-issue” style parties to Estonian elections.

http://www.metroolinn.ee

Eestimaa Ühendatud Vasakpartei

The Left party of Estonia. A throwback to the late 80’s/early 90’s. Yes, this is still a thing, even in Estonia. They don’t usually get very far, but they keep going. I couldn’t find an actual program for the upcoming elections, and their website looks ultra-retro. Pretty soon it will be cool again.

Savisaare valimisliit ja Tegus Tallinn

Yes, Savisaar is back! He’s no longer running with Keskerakond, and I’m not 100% sure but I bet there are still a bunch of allegations and open court cases for corruption against him. But hey, it wouldn’t be the first time people keep voting for corrupt politicians. In past elections, the districts where he was a candidate got upwards of 80% of votes. We’re talking North Korea style here. This is gonna be fun to watch and see if indeed he gets all the votes in Lasnamäe.

I couldn’t find a website, but here’s a news article about it (in Estonian)
http://www.err.ee/616484/savisaare-valimisliit-ja-tegus-tallinn-avalikustas-esinumbrid

Then there are a bunch of independent candidates also. I haven’t listed them all, and finally there’s a group on Facebook called Future Tallinn who also has a bunch of expats in the race.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/futureTallinn/about/?ref=page_internal

Are there any expats running for election?

Yes, there usually are a couple of funny looking guys who clearly are not Estonian running for elections. The Social Democrats had a couple on the last local elections and managed to elect Adbul Turay from the UK. He has now turned to a different party and is running under Keskerakond.
He has clearly put some thought into his election, and has a blog with some answers to the most common questions

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