Tag Archives: independent candidate

Läheb vist valimisteks! // Return of Democracy!

The IT (Indrek Tarand) Initiative is my extraordinary bid (as an independently elected member of the Greens/EFA Group) to be elected into the Bureau of the European Parliament. Besides the fact that Estonia is well-recognised IT power state, which coincidentally takes on the responsibilities of the rotating EU presidency in second half of 2017, there are other, more intrinsic reasons to be considered. So indeed, why should you support me for one of the 14 vice presidents of the European Parliament?

1. To refresh a somewhat rigid system by holding true elections

It sounds a bit radical, doesn’t it? In reality it is nothing more than political pluralism, a cornerstone of true democracy, which by definition means actual elections instead of appointments by acclamation.

We all are used to the fact, that the current system  leads to confirming foregone conclusions. How should one act when the leader of the S&D Group, Mr. Pitella, has announced the end of the Grand Coalition? Perhaps to prevent the collapse of the established reliable system, and thereby introducing total change, we could just hit “refresh” by bringing in an independent candidate from a small group and even smaller member state?

2. To give a fair chance to smaller players

We all understand that the size of the population and of the economy matter in determining member state’s “weight” in taking our common decisions. While it is true that the smaller states are protected by the so-called regressive proportionality, it is next to impossible to imagine an MEP from a country like Estonia ever becoming a member of the bureau in EP. Why? Because the size of the so-called national delegation matters as well. For example – the Estonian delegation in EPP, S&D, ALDE and Greens consist of only the heads of delegations themselves (read 1 member only).  In EPP it equals to power of 1/200, in the Greens 1/50th. However, it is impossible to become a candidate even in the Greens/EFA Group, because you may represent 18% of your country’s electorate (same proportion as Greens in Austria), but you still have one vote against Austrian 3.  Hence the only option for a MEP from such a tiny country to become a candidate is with 40 plus signatures.

3. Ideas to be tested and perhaps executed 

My promise is simple and does not echo the powerful, but sometimes non-specific phrases about „even more Europe”. Yes, I am truly pro-European, but I take a very pragmatic view about what there is to be done in order to restore the citizen’s trust in the union.

One of the few things to be attempted is to enhance the role of the Parliament as an equal co-legislator. This requires a review of our ability to influence budgetary performance of the Union in general, starting with our own institution. The smallest excess in our own spending or slightest mishap regarding transparency may damage our institution more than any anti-European rhetoric can. We must be exemplary in our dealings, which in turn would give us a more authoritative position vis-à-vis other institutions (as executer of parliamentary scrutiny).

In the budgetary aspect, there are three main players in the European Parliament, namely the BUDG and CONT committees, but also the bureau. Currently members from these two committees are not represented in the bureau. I am already a member of both committees, and thereby I would provide the missing link if elected to the bureau.

As a firm supporter of good digital solutions such as AT4AM and e-Portal, which have somewhat alleviated our administrative burden, I pledge to continue on this forward thinking path (by pushing for more innovative and user-friendly solutions as a VP).

I support Gender balance, and these are not just empty words, I have been promoting the inclusion of women in the public sector since the mid-90s when I was director general of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and had to set up the whole diplomatic corps after the fall of the Soviet Union).

Furthermore, I will provide:

-Respect and fair treatment to all MEPs. Meaning that Rules of Procedure should be applied in a fair and uniform way to all of MEPs and political groups, no matter the colour or background.

-Openness to engage with each member, and to accommodate their thoughts and ideas to improve the everyday handling of business as well as to increase the power of the Parliament.

Why Independent?

There were two main challenges in the context of the European Parliament elections in Estonia in 2009. One of them was the election system, that did not give people the possibility to decide who to vote for (so-called “closed lists”) – the parties’ leaders comfortably deciding themselves. Furthermore, this is related to an even larger – and still existing – problem.

People in Estonia are too often forced into party membership. They are left with no other choice when they wish to do business in certain areas, build a house, expand their company’s market share, have job at a ministry, etc. I decided I want to contribute to finding a solution, instead of whining about the situation. Moreover, I thought my contribution would make a rather good one, as there is currently only 1 politician from Estonia who happens to have more experience in foreign affairs matters than my 17 years and that is my colleague in the EP, Mr Tunne Kelam. As an independent candidate, I offered the people a little diversity in this context during the last elections and it seemed to resonate with quite a few people.

I have been interested in politics ever since I was little, but I haven’t joined any party. Being in the party during the Soviet occupation was out of the question for understandable reasons. After Estonia had restored its independence, I thought it would be more suitable for a free country to have an apolitical civil service. Even later, when I was the advisor to the Prime Minister and chancellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was unthinkable that the civil service could belong to a party. I still believe that top officials without party membership are much better than bureaucrats with a party membership.

I acknowledge different ways of thinking, hobbies etc, because they enrich society on the whole. However I cannot say that I could belong to any of the two parties in Estonia that call themselves liberal on a European level because in my opinion they are not. In some things I am rather conservative, maybe even a bit nostalgic. This would however relate only to the Republic of Estonia before World War II. But unlike our conservatives, I am able to interact with the Russians – I can present my thought to them in an understandable way and sometimes even earn their respect. I don’t worship money, though it’s natural that it motivates people rather often. Should I have more money left over, I would prefer it to be given for those in need. Therefore I may say that I also have a social-democratic part in me.