TALLINN - The Moderates, one of the major political parties in Estonia, has changed its name into the Social Democratic Party and elected members to run for seats in the European Parliament. The name change was supported by 226 out of some 300 delegates of the party congress held in Tallinn on Feb. 7.
"The time is right for social democracy in Estonia... Our goal is to turn Estonia into a rapidly developing welfare society of Europe. For that sake the Moderates will give up their moderateness. From today on we are the Social Democratic Party," reads the manifesto of the party proclaimed at the congress.
The party, once a member of the ruling coalition along with the Reform Party and Pro Patria Union, did poorly at the last Parliament elections and now holds six seats in the Estonian Parliament being a part of the opposition. The Social Democratic Party has about 2,900 members.
The list of confirmed candidates for the European Parliament elections includes former Foreign Affairs Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves, journalist Marianne Mikko, former Minister of Population Affairs Katrin Saks, former Social Affairs Minister Eiki Nestor, Party Chairman and MP Ivari Padar, MP Andres Tarand, party secretary general Eduard Odinets, trade union leader Kadi Parnits, former MP Liia Hanni, the party's foreign relations secretary Marit Valge, Varska county district head Rein Jarvelill and party council member Reet Laja.
Ilves, the number one candidate on the list, said that Social Democratic parties make the leading force of the European politics.
There are six seats in the European Parliament reserved for Estonia, and every major party including the newly born Social Democrats have claimed to win at least two of those.