Conservative People's Party of Estonia

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Conservative People's Party of Estonia
Leader Mart Helme
Founded 24 March 2012
Preceded by People's Union of Estonia
Estonian Patriotic Movement[1]
Headquarters Toompuiestee 4, Tallinn
Youth wing Sinine Äratus
(Blue Awakening)
Membership  (2014) 7,600[2]
Ideology Estonian nationalism
National conservatism
Euroscepticism
Direct democracy
Political position Right-wing
Colours Blue
Riigikogu
0 / 101
EU Parliament
0 / 6
Website
www.ekre.ee
Politics of Estonia
Political parties
Elections

The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (Estonian: Eesti Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond, EKRE) is a national conservative political party in Estonia. It was founded in March 2012 when the agrarian centrist party People's Union of Estonia and the pressure group Estonian Patriotic Movement merged.

The current chairman of the party is Mart Helme, former Estonian ambassador to Russia.[3] As of August 2014, the party polls in public opinion at around 4%.[4] At the same time it had around 7600 members, making it the fourth largest Estonian party.[5]

The party sees the survival of Estonian ethnicity as its main struggle, and many of its policies are directed at supporting young Estonian families, reducing emigration of Estonians and fighting immigration from outside of the European Union. It is also frankly eurosceptic and wishes to implement Swiss style direct democracy.

History[edit]

In 2010, the People's Union of Estonia started to look for a possible merging partner. Talks with the Social Democratic Party were concluded and a special congress was convened to approve the merger agreement. However, at the party congress, only 172 delegates out of 412 supported the deal.[6] Following the failed merger attempt, many leading members (MPs) left the party and joined the social democrats.[7] In the 2011 parliamentary elections, the People's Union did not pass the 5% threshold, and became an extra-parliamentary party.

In March 2012, the Estonian Patriotic Movement merged into the People's Union and the latter changed its name to the Conservative People's Party of Estonia.[8] At the assembly in Põltsamaa, where the party was founded, EKRE made its first political statement: "No political party in the Riigikogu represents the Estonian people, our national interest or traditional values. The government acts on right- and left liberal, also socialist ideas that our countrymen are simply statistical units or taxpayers, consumers at best. It is not far right or far left, just ultra-liberalism. The Conservative People's Party gives a solution to the voters who are sick of forced choice between Ansip and Savisaar, East and West, left and right."[9]

The party's youth during a torchlight march in Tallinn, 2014

The party's affiliated nationalist youth movement, Blue Awakening (Estonian: Sinine Äratus) was founded in November 2012. The young activists have been behind many of the party's protest marches and annually organize a torchlight march through Tallinn on February 24, Independence Day of Estonia. The torchlight march is meant to honor those who have fallen for the nation of Estonia and to signify that Estonian youth have not abandoned the nationalist principles.[10]

EKRE takes part of yearly gatherings of the veterans of the Estonian Legion at the Sinimäed Hills. In 2013, the attendance of Mart Helme was praised in Estonian media while the abstention of other parties' leaders was frown upon and seen as a result of Russian anti-fascist propaganda.[11]

On 23 August 2013, EKRE signed the Declaration of Bauska together with political parties National Alliance and Lithuanian Nationalist Union. The declaration calls for a new national awakening of the Baltic states and warns about threats posed by international globalism, multiculturalism and Russian imperial ambitions.[12][13]

During the local elections in October 2013, the party gained representation in several smaller municipalities, including a majority in the town of Saue,[14] parishes of Tudulinna[15] and Häädemeeste.[16]

The first party since the 1990s to politically organize Estonian diaspora, EKRE founded its Finland branch in October 2014.[17]

Ideology and political positions[edit]

Mart Helme with a pre-World War II map of Europe

The party's platform generally reflects Estonian national conservatism in the Estonian political system. EKRE describes itself as "a principled and bravely patriotic Estonian party with an unshakable mission to protect Estonian national values and interests".[1] However, BBC News and the Christian Science Monitor have called it "far-right".[18][19]

The party calls for implementation of direct democracy, balanced state budget[20] and strict control over immigration to Estonia.[21]

Social policies[edit]

Education and health care[edit]

The party strongly opposes the widespread closure of schools in countryside. Its program requires the teachers to speak high-level Estonian and be loyal to the Estonian state. To raise the quality of education, EKRE desires to raise the wages of teachers.[22]

According to the program of the party, health care must create preconditions for the preservation of the Estonian nation. The party stands for free dental treatment,[23] wants to limit the availability of tobacco, alcohol and narcotics, and does not support abortion.[24]

Immigration[edit]

EKRE has repeatedly ruled out supporting any further mass immigration into Estonia, citing a large number of Russians already imported during the Soviet occupation. The party upholds that the Estonian migration policies must advance the aim of "expanding the amount and precentage of Estonians in Estonia" and if the liberal government allows the immigration to alter the ethnic makeup of Estonia, it is a scandalous and undemocratic.[25]

Commenting ethnic riots caused by immigrants in Sweden, Martin Helme, board member and the party leader's son said in a TV talk show in May 2013: "Estonia shouldn't allow things to go as far as in England, France and Sweden. Our immigration policy should have one simple rule: if you're black, go back. As simple as that. We shouldn't allow this problem to emerge in the first place."[26]

Same-sex unions[edit]

The party strictly opposed the civil partnership law on registered partnership for same-sex couples that was adopted by Riigikogu in October 2014. Pointing out that the law grants adoption rights to homosexual couples, the party claimed it essentially establishes same-sex marriage. Instead, the party insists on the parliament to adopt laws that would help to raise the birth rate and strengthen the societal attitudes towards getting children, including the need to strengthen the traditional family model.[27]

EKRE also claimed that pushing through the law while opinion polls showed that the majority of Estonian people opposed it, was undemocratic. The party promises in its platform to put the law on a referendum.[23]

Economic policies[edit]

Environment[edit]

The party's program includes a ban on all genetically modified foods and their import.[28]

Banking[edit]

The party calls for creation of a national public bank.[29] It has also supported cooperative banking in Tartu, including in its program the establishment of an alternative interest-free currency.[30]

Foreign policies[edit]

Green is territory that EKRE claims is illegally occupied by Russia

The Conservative People's Party of Estonia stands for Estonia's independence and sovereignty. They claim that the European Union is moving towards a federal state and Estonia should veto any legislation that centralises more power to the hands of EU.[31] On 30 August 2012, EKRE organised a protest at Toompea against the ratification of European Stability Mechanism treaty.[32]

EKRE strongly opposes a proposed border treaty between Estonia and Russia, which, according to the party, would cede 5.2% of Estonia's territory to the occupier once and for all without any compromise or compensation on its side. The party has called the possible signing of the treaty "treason" and the Estonian politicians who would sign it "traitors to the state".[33]

Defence policies[edit]

The EKRE concept of the national defence policy is based on the self-reliant national defence. The security of the republic would be safeguarded by the existence of initial defense, compulsory military service, total defense, international cooperation and the membership of NATO.[34] The platform of the party includes formation of two tank battalions and acquisition of medium-range anti-aircraft systems.[23]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b EKRE: Erakond
  2. ^ [1], Äriregistri teabesüsteem
  3. ^ "EKRE general assembly elects Mart Helme chairman". Postimees. 
  4. ^ TNS Emor public opinion polls
  5. ^ Äriregistri teabesüsteem
  6. ^ "People’s Union rebuffs Soc Dem merger". Baltic Reports. 
  7. ^ "People’s Union board resigns, joins Soc Dems". Baltic Reports. 
  8. ^ "People's Union Becomes 'Conservative People's Party'". ERR. 
  9. ^ Delfi: Uue nime saanud Rahvaliit: parlamendierakonnad tegelevad manduva ja kõlbeliselt hukutava euroliidu väärtuste propageerimisega
  10. ^ EKRE: Muljeid tõrvikurongkäigust
  11. ^ Õhtuleht: Sinimäed kui poliitikute konnasilm
  12. ^ Nacionālā apvienība: Baltijas nacionālisti paraksta sadarbības līgumu, vēršoties pret globālajiem apdraudējumiem
  13. ^ Baltimaade konservatiivid: aeg on küps uueks rahvuslikuks ärkamiseks
  14. ^ ERR: Saue linnapeana jätkab Henn Põlluaas
  15. ^ Põhjarannik: Tudulinnas tegi ilma EKRE
  16. ^ Vallavanemaks valiti Ants Järvesaar
  17. ^ Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond asutas Soome osakonna
  18. ^ BBC News - Black Briton aims to be Estonian MEP
  19. ^ A first for Estonia: an elected black politician
  20. ^ EKRE programm: majandus ja põllumajandus
  21. ^ EKRE programm: kodanik ja kodanikuühiskond
  22. ^ EKRE programm: haridus ja kultuur
  23. ^ a b c Riigikogu valimiste platvorm 2015. On aeg!
  24. ^ EKRE programm: tervishoid
  25. ^ Volikogu avaldus: Valitsuse plaanitud massiimmigratsioon Eestisse ohustab meie rahvuslikku püsimist
  26. ^ Conservative Politician: If You're Black, Go Back
  27. ^ EKRE: kooseluseadus on vastuolus eesti rahva huvidega
  28. ^ EKRE programm: majandus ja põllumajandus
  29. ^ E24: Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond nõuab riiklikku kommertspanka
  30. ^ Platvorm Tartu valitsemiseks 2013–2017
  31. ^ http://www.ekre.ee/eesti-peab-panema-veto-euroopa-uhendriikidele/
  32. ^ Delfi: ESM-i vastane meeleavaldus
  33. ^ Postimees: Estonia's Conservative People's Party criticizes border treaty with Russia
  34. ^ CPP program: National Defence policy

External links[edit]