Estonian Reform Party

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Estonian Reform Party
Leader Taavi Rõivas
Founded 18 November 1994
Headquarters Tõnismägi 9
Tallinn 10119
Youth wing Estonian Reform Party Youth
Membership  (2014) 12,972
Ideology Liberalism[1]
Classical liberalism[2]
Political position Centre-right[3]
International affiliation Liberal International
European affiliation Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
European Parliament group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Colours Yellow and blue
Riigikogu
33 / 101
European Parliament
2 / 6
Website
www.reform.ee
Politics of Estonia
Political parties
Elections

The Estonian Reform Party (Estonian: Eesti Reformierakond) is a liberal[3][4][5] pro-free market political party in Estonia. The party is led by current Prime Minister of Estonia Taavi Rõivas, and has 33 members in the 101-member Riigikogu, making it the largest party in the legislature. The Reform Party has participated in the government of Estonia for all but three years since its foundation in 1994.

The party was founded by then-President of the Bank of Estonia Siim Kallas as a split from National Coalition Party Pro Patria. At the 1995 election, it won 19 seats in the Riigikogu, making it the second largest party. The Reform Party replaced the Estonian Centre Party in government in autumn 1995, and remained there until 1996. In 1999, the party lost a seat, but returned to the cabinet in coalition with the Pro Patria Union and the People's Party Moderates. The party has remained in various coalitions since then, with Andrus Ansip as Prime Minister since 2005. At the 2007 election, the party won 31 seats, becoming the largest party for the first time, and increased its seat tally again in 2011, with 33 seats.

As the Reform Party has participated in most of the government coalitions in Estonia since the mid-1990s, its influence has been great, especially regarding Estonia's free market and low taxes policies. The party has been a full member of Liberal International since 1996, having been an observer member between 1994–1996, and a full member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party. The founder and the first chairman of the Reform Party, Siim Kallas, has been since 2004 a Commissioner of the European Commission. He is also one of the five Vice Presidents of the Barroso Commission.

History[edit]

The Estonian Reform Party was founded on 18 November 1994,[6] joining together the Reform Party — a then-recent splinter from the National Coalition Party Pro Patria — and the Estonian Liberal Democratic Party. The new party, which had 710 members at its foundation,[6] was led by Siim Kallas, who had been President of the Bank of Estonia and uninvolved in politics. Kallas was untainted by association with Mart Laar's government, but was widely seen as a proficient central bank governor, having overseen the successful introduction of the Estonian kroon.[7] The party formed ties with the Free Democratic Party of Germany, the Liberal People's Party of Sweden, Finland's Swedish People's Party, and Latvia's Latvian Way.[6]

Siim Kallas[edit]

Siim Kallas 6.JPG

Siim Kallas was leader of the Reform Party from 1994 to 2004. He was Prime minister of Estonia from 2002 to 2003.

In the party's first parliamentary election, in March 1995, it won 19 seats: catapulting it into second place, behind the Coalition Party. Tiit Vähi tried to negotiate a coalition with the Reform Party, but the talks broke down over economic policy,[8] with the Reform Party opposing agricultural subsidies and supporting the maintenance of Estonia's flat-rate income tax,[7] While the Coalition Party formed a new government with the Centre Party at first, a taping scandal involving Centre Party leader Edgar Savisaar led to the Reform Party replacing the Centre Party in the coalition in November 1995.[9] Kallas was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs, with five other Reform Party members serving in the cabinet. The Reform Party left the government in November 1996 after the Coalition Party signed a cooperation agreement with the Centre Party without consulting them.[9]

At the 1999 election, the Reform Party dropped one seat to 18, finishing third behind the Centre Party and the conservative Pro Patria Union.[10] The ER formed a centre-right coalition with the Pro Patria Union and the Moderates, with Mart Laar as Prime Minister and Siim Kallas as Minister of Finance, and with Toomas Savi returned as Speaker.[10] Although the coalition was focused on EU and NATO accession, the Reform Party successfully delivered its manifesto pledge to abolish corporate tax:[10] one of its most notable achievements.[11] After the October 1999 local elections, the three parties replicated their alliance in Tallinn.[12]

The party served in government again from March 1999 to December 2001 in a tripartite government with Pro Patria Union and People's Party Moderates, from January 2002 to March 2003 with the Estonian Centre Party, from March 2003 to March 2005 with Res Publica and People's Union, from March 2005 to March 2007 with the Centre Party and People's Union, from March 2007 to May 2009 with Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica and the Social Democratic Party. Since May 2009 the Reform Party are in a minority government with Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica.

Andrus Ansip[edit]

Prime Minister of Estonia Andrus Ansip (5373101682).jpg

Ansip was prime minister of Estonia since April 2005 to March 2014.

After the 2007 parliamentary election holds 31 out of 101 seats in the Riigikogu, after receiving 153,040 votes (27.8% of the total), an increase of +10.1%, resulting in a net gain of 12 seats.

Taavi Rõivas[edit]

Taavi Rõivas - current PM of Estonia

Taavi Rõivas firstly became the Prime minister and after that leader of the Reform Party.

Ideology[edit]

Ideologically, the Reform Party has consistently advocated market liberalism.[11] The Reform Party is the most economically liberal in the political landscape of Estonia.

  • The party supports Estonian 0% corporate tax on re-invested income and wants to eliminate the dividend tax.
  • The party wanted to cut flat income tax rate from 22% (in 2007) to 18% by 2011. Due to economic crisis the campaign for cutting income tax rate was put on hold with the tax rate at 21% in 2008 and 2009.
  • The party used to oppose VAT general rate increase until late spring 2009 when it changed its position in the light of dire economic crisis and the need to find more money for budget. VAT was increased from 18% to 20% on 1 July 2009.
  • The party wants eventually to end conscription and introduce a voluntary army.[13]

Political support[edit]

The Estonian Reform Party is the strongest party in the area surrounding Tallinn, in north-western Estonia, and is also the largest party across Tartu County in the east, as illustrated by this map of the 2007 election results.

The party is supported predominantly by young, well-educated, urban professionals. Unlike the Centre Party, which has disproportionate appeal amongst the Russian minority, and the Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica, which is overwhelmingly backed by ethnic Estonians, the Reform Party attracts votes from equally across populations.[14] The Reform Party's vote base is heavily focused in the cities; although it receives only one-fifth of its support from Tallinn, it receives three times as many votes from other cities, despite them being home to fewer than 40% more voters overall.[14]

Its voter profile is significantly younger than average,[15] while its voters are well-educated, with the fewest high school drop-outs of any party.[14] Its membership is the most male-dominated of all the parties,[16] yet it receives the support of more female voters than average.[15] Reform Party voters also tend to have higher incomes, with 43% of Reform Party voters coming from the top 30% of all voters by income.[14]

Organisation[edit]

The Reform Party has been a full member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (formerly the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party, ELDR) since December 1998.[17] In the European Parliament, the party's one MEP — Kristiina Ojuland — sits in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group, while its member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe — currently Margus Hanson — sits in the The ALDE group in the Assembly. The Reform Party has been a full member of the Liberal International since 1996, having been an observer member from 1994 to 1996.

The party claims to have 10,000 members.[18]

The party's youth wing is the Estonian Reform Party Youth, which includes members aged 15 to 35. The organisation claims to have 4,500 members.[19]

Election results[edit]

Election Votes Vote % Seats Place
1995 87,531 16.2 19 2nd
1999 77,088   Decrease 15.9 Decrease 18 Decrease 3rd Decrease
2003 87,551   Increase 17.7 Increase 19 Increase 3rd
2007 153,044 Increase 27.8 Increase 31 Increase 1st Increase
2011 165,255 Increase 28.6 Increase 33 Increase 1st

In government[edit]

Current ministers from the Reform Party in government:

Name Ministry Picture
Taavi Rõivas Prime Minister's Office
RE Taavi Rõivas.jpg
Jürgen Ligi Ministry of Finance
Jürgen Ligi.jpg
Urve Tiidus Ministry of Culture
RE Urve Tiidus.jpg
Keit Pentus-Rosimannus Ministry of Environment
Keit Pentus, 2011.jpg
Urmas Paet Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Urmas Paet, 2011.jpg
Hanno Pevkur Ministry of Internal Affairs
Hanno Pevkur, 2011.jpg

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  2. ^ NSD, European Election Database
  3. ^ a b World and Its Peoples. Marshall Cavendish. 2010. pp. 1060–. ISBN 978-0-7614-7896-6. 
  4. ^ Elena Semenova; Michael Edinger; Heinrich Best (2013). Parliamentary Elites in Central and Eastern Europe: Recruitment and Representation. Routledge. pp. 101–. ISBN 978-1-317-93533-9. 
  5. ^ Elisabeth Bakke (2010). "Central and East European party systems since 1989". Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989 (Cambridge University Press). pp. 78–79. ISBN 978-1-139-48750-4. 
  6. ^ a b c Bugajski (2002), p. 64
  7. ^ a b Nørgaard (1999), p. 75
  8. ^ Dawisha, Karen; Parrott, Bruce (1999). The Consolidation of Democracy in East-Central Europe. London: Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 352. ISBN 978-1-85898-837-5. 
  9. ^ a b Europa Publications (1998), p 336
  10. ^ a b c Bugajski (2002), p. 52
  11. ^ a b Berglund et al (2004), p 67
  12. ^ Bugajski (2002), p. 53
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ a b c d Berglund et al (2004), p 65
  15. ^ a b Kulik and Pshizova (2005), p. 153
  16. ^ Kulik and Pshizova (2005), p. 151
  17. ^ "History : ELDR 1976 - 2009". European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  18. ^ (Estonian) "Organisatsioon". Estonian Reform Party. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  19. ^ (Estonian) "Noortegku". Estonian Reform Party Youth. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]