Parties pull off municipal marriage

  • 2005-08-31
  • By Ksenia Repson
TALLINN - Leaders of the Social Democrats and People's Union have reportedly begun negotiating a united platform - and possibly a merger - in order to improve their chances in the Tallinn municipal elections this October.

As a result of their Aug. 29 meeting, the parties decided that members of the People's Union would be included into the SocDem's list.

Jaak Juske, SocDem party leader in the Tallinn area, and Mario Sootna, his colleague from the People's Union, published a mutual agreement stressing the common vision both parties have for the capital's future.

A campaign program is now being composed, with the slogan already known 's "Man is above all! Choose social democratic power!"

The parties have nominated ex-Centrist MP Sven Mikser for the post of Tallinn mayor, while athlete Erika Salumae would be the candidate to head the city government.

The merger, which combines one coalition partner (People's Union) and one opposition party (Social Democrats), would include a platform that promises free city transport by 2009, the restoration of school stadiums, and a depoliticization of the state's health-care system.

Both parties assert that the merger would take place only in the capital. MEP Toomas Hedrik Ilves, one of the founders of the Social Democrats, expressed his disapproval of a formal marriage with the People's Union long ago. He told the Eesti Ekspress that he would never join a coalition of those two parties.

MP Enn Tarto has already left the party, saying he could not stand the possibility of cooperation.

"I dislike the People's Union's past and background," he told the Baltic News Service on Aug. 15. As an example, he recalled the People's Union recommendation that President Arnold Ruutel go to Moscow on May 9 for the Victory Day celebrations, a trip he was against.

SocDem Marju Lauristin told the Paevaleht newspaper that it was too early to talk of a merger. Cooperation in Tallinn is an experiment, she said.

But the paper wrote in its editorial that, until recently, the two parties hated each other. Once former Economic Minister and SocDem Mihkel Parnoja wanted to privatize state-owned Eesti Energia, while the People's Union leader, Villu Reiljan, actively collected signatures against privatization.