TALLINN - It is a common belief that ethnic Estonians don't mix with Russian-speaking minorities, even in the same clubs or bars. But whilst others may choose to stick to this apartheid of choice, politicians of the far left have decided to join forces.
The Estonian Left Party and Estonian Constitutional Party formed the United Left Party on June 28. Leaders of the two parties say the parties decided to unify because it seemed pointless to have two small parties with such similar principles.
"I think it's a very good example. If political goals are alike, aims are the same, then nationality shouldn't be a problem," said Sergei Jurgens, one of the chairmen of the new party.
He added that the unification is a very good example of integration politics, saying that perhaps Russians and Estonians will listen and understand each other more.
"In general it's hard to survive in Estonia for a small party if there's no national financing. And now sponsoring by establishments also isn't allowed; only individuals can do it. By joined forces it's easier to live, and especially when goals set in programs are so alike, we thought it's reasonable to join," Jurgens said.
In a statement made before the announcements, the left-wing parties said that the 15 years of rule by right-wing parties led to a deep societal crisis. The new party aims to end economic and moral crisis and improve the lives of working people.
The Left Party was also a member of the European Left party and hope to tighten their collaboration with the European Union. They also try to promote socialism, which they feel has been neglected by what they see as the right-wing-dominated media. To this end the party will start publishing a magazine, about two thirds of which will focus on European issues and the rest on Estonian issues.
The party leadership hopes to set a new agenda in Estonian politics. "I'd say the situation in [the] Estonian political scene is so right-wing that I can't name anyone who has left and who would propagate it. To take it purely formal, then Social Democrats should do it," said Jurgens.
Jurgen added that although the Social Democrats are nominally left-wing, they are part of the right-wing coalition and do little to help the common man because they have to follow their coalition partners.
Jurgens didn't think that the words "left party" would necessarily bring to mind communism.
"The truth is that if we take other Estonian parties, then in my opinion there are top communists in the governing board. Of course, you somehow might relate Left Party to the previous Communist Party. But 15 years have passed, and I think people have changed in that time," Jurgens said. He added that a person who holds such views has a right to be respected.