Same product can't be sold twice

  • 2004-08-26
  • By Tonis Lukas
After the European Parliament elections, one of the most important domestic policy subjects that has excited people is the fate of Res Publica. Discussions reflect various points of view and yet have much in common. It is equally clear to everyone that, unlike other parties, Res Publica was not shaped but rather, so to say, whooshed together for one-time use.

Just as its "appearance on the market" has been described as a purely marketing project, every stage of the party's development has been accompanied by the same approach. Like the main coordinator of Res Publica's parliamentary election campaign said: In order to achieve a positive result, one must adhere to the same marketing logic as before - Res Publica, as a political product, should be made appetizing to people with an appropriate advertising method. In this case, it pays to be pleasant to people only before the elections, - i.e., until the product is sold. After that, let the buyer figure out for himself what to do with his choice.
Compared to other parties, the public is particularly interested in the development of Res Publica. A "new thing" is always interesting. This subject seems to be particularly significant to the members of the party and its supporters, who have realized after the fact that their feelings and expectations have been taken advantage of.
Now spiritually stunned, they are either trying, swearing, to free themselves of the responsibility for the choice they have made or to believe that the illusion can be realized on certain conditions. The latter are generally optimistic people. My heart follows them, because every sanguine attitude is deeply attractive. At the same time it is impossible to reach nationwide goals voters were hoping for with the help of leaders of one party only, leaders who consider themselves almost faultless. Cooperation with others is necessary.
Res Publica's program is under discussion again. No one expects that, while doing so, someone will find a better way for carrying out the party's only clear platform - the New Politics. Party leaders don't like to hear that the slogan was actually created for one-time use - they are too involved in seizing positions in the "old politics." Several members of Res Publica have focused on the party's location at the political left-right scale without trying to answer the question about what should be done to justify the electorate's trust shown at the last parliamentary elections. The party is thus seeking salvation by labeling itself a right-centrist party. But in this game of political orienteering, there is nothing left for the newcomer: The right-centrist program has been occupied by the Pro Patria Union for a long time now.
Hence the new party wants to replace an existing party - all talk about the New Politics was a clear swindle. And that what it was meant to be. Before the elections many top candidates of Res Publica formed their rhetoric by saying, well, dear voters, as Pro Patria Union won't surpass the 5 percent threshold, support us instead.
But as the party formed, it immediately started to look for a position in the European People's Party, which had been so far taken by Pro Patria Union. A could of "the incorruptubles" set to seizing the Pro Patria's monolithic support group as their personal program by presenting many agreements only on their personal behalf. At the recent village gathering in Janeda, Prime Minister Juhan Parts could not restrain himself when describing how important he considers the role of agriculture in the economy. The Maaleht weekly saw behind this rare fury a passionless plan to gain the support of the farmers who had previously belonged to the competitors.
Both a large number of people and even Prime Minister Juhan Parts have become disappointed - when he began to head the recently created party he too had illusions. There is an alternative to trying to sell air. There are many members of Res Publica who developed, as citizens, their conception of the world long ago; they have been looking for something new and interesting, but as they did not find it [in Res Publica], they will return their support to several previous political forces - namely Pro Patria Union, the Social Democrats and the Reform Party. For them the attempts of [Res Publica's] party leadership to copy an existing party has no importance; they will simply return to existing parties.
The Pro Patria Union is inviting its former members and supporters to re-unite with us. Right-centrist, nationalist-conservative and Christian-Democratic values are represented in our program. The Pro Patria Union's regional branches are ready to welcome everyone standing for the same political principles everywhere in Estonia. o

Pro Patria MP Tonis Lukas
is first deputy chairman of Pro Patria Union and a former minister of education and mayor of Tartu. This article first appeared
in Postimees on Aug. 16.