Tired of Politics
Spring 2006 should be a hot one in Estonian politics. The birth of a new party is right around the corner. Sooner or later the result will be a shifting of the entire party-political terrain. In the autumn a new head of state will be elected in Estonia; in nine months, the people will elect another parliament.
Still, both politicians and the people alike seem tired. Public opinion polls and the turnout percentages at elections clearly point to the fact that a little over half of the people do not vote and will not vote. There seems to be more and more jadedness among politicians as well. Every year it is harder to find people who, after running for parliament, want to do the work for four years. In the last three and half years, a member of parliament has been replaced on 69 occasions. Around 25 have given up their seats, and ten or so have found another job, whether in the European Parliament, at the Bank of Estonia, on the Supreme Court, or as county governor. The “revolving doors” stem largely from the fact that governments only last around two years and when the coalition falls, the ministers retake their seats as Riigikogu members. Why is being an MP not all that popular? I don’t think it’s a question of the money or the benefits. We should think more along the lines of what the role of the parliament is: most laws have been enacted and parliament should perform the other functions vested in it by the Constitution. Parliament cannot be the place where the decisions made by government are rubber-stamped. The representatives of the people need people of action, who invest the status of MP with respectable content. There are plenty of issues that need to be resolved. This edition of RiTo draws attention to some of them. In an essay entitled “Will the Estonian people survive?”, the demographic expert, professor emeritus Ene-Margit Tiit discusses the factors that have an effect on the population level. Other topics featured are energy policy and domestic security, and there is also an opinion survey on how society sees power and vice versa.