TALLINN - Estonia's two leading right-wing parties 'sRes Publica and Pro Patria Union 's agreed to merge this week, with the new entity to be called Party for Estonia. The parties' boards gave the go-ahead on April 4.
According to a joint declaration of intent signed by the leader of Pro Patria Union, Tonis Lukas, and Res Publica's chairman, Taavi Veskimagi, the boards found joining forces necessary to achieve the goals facing Estonia. "We sense that this is also what the society expects from us," the document reads.
The parties said they were disturbed by the rise of a Soviet-type nomenclature-way of thinking, leftist populism and unethical behavior in politics.
"The values that bind us are a forward-looking orientation of society, survival of the nation and culture, broadening of people's freedoms and opportunities, honest governance, caring and thrift," the parties said. "We are bound by belonging to the common European political value space or the European People's Party."
The merger will take place on the basis of both parties' decisions no later than June. Management will be unified during a transition period lasting until June 2007, when a congress of the merged party will take place.
A joint board will be formed to govern the merged party until the transition period ends. Similarly, a joint policy-making council will be formed from the two existing councils.
After nearly winning the national elections in March 2003, Res Publica chose not to cooperate with Pro Patria Union in the resulting coalition. However, since then Res Publica's popularity has fallen dramatically, and there is doubt that the party will be able to break the minimum threshold in next year's election.
Rain Rosimannus, a member of the liberal Reform Party, welcomed the merger. "This is good news for right-wing causes in Estonia. Consolidation has been eagerly awaited. Hats off if Pro Patria Union manages to make the first step in this direction," he told the Baltic News Service.
As he explained, it is a perfect time for Pro Patria Union and Res Publica to join forces and make up for one another's weaknesses. "The long time of not being involved in governance has helped the electorate to forget Pro Patria Union's earlier sins 's the party's reputation is being restored. On the other hand, Pro Patria Union lacks strong leaders, and the party's organization is on the weak side. With Res Publica, things are the opposite," Rosimannus said.
He added that consolidation on the right wing would be particularly important, as counterbalance to the Center Party's highly successful efforts to unify and integrate leftist forces.
"Over the years, the Center Party has combined with itself small parties of the unlawfully repressed, Russian-speakers and pensioners. The latest developments in Tallinn and across the country indicate that [Center Party Chairman Edgar] Savisaar has set his sights on unifying the People's Union with the Center Party as well," Rosimannus observed.