The Politicization of Local Representatives
The role of parties is influential in local government, especially at election time. In their views and work as representatives, council members still consider the views of the local people more than their party.
Parties have emerged as movers and shakers in the local governmental field fairly recently, around the time of the 2002 local council elections. The turning point was an amendment that initially banned party blocs from forming at local elections. Parties’ better internal organization also played a role, helping to force through changes in the law on political parties and non-profit organizations.
An analysis of election statistics and party statutes gives reason to state that local elections and decision-making mechanisms in councils are ever more similar to those in the Riigikogu, where all processes (nomination, competition, committee appointments) proceed by party affiliation. Still, there persist traditions – the top-down party politicization of elections has not changed the previous patterns of local democracy.