Blogger Flasher T of Antyx has an excellent rundown of the latest scandal to hit Edgar Savisaar, mayor of Tallinn and leader of the Centre Party (Keskerakond), the second largest party in the Estonian parliament.
In that post (and in other media) it is strongly hinted that someone within Savisaar’s own party might have tipped off the Estonian secret services to Savisaar’s attempts to procure money from Russia to finance the party’s campaigns in the March 2011 parliamentary elections. Flasher also insinuated that the secret services were pressured to leak to story to the press. Savisaar has denied any wrongdoing, and still looks set to lead his party in March.
That might be good for the Centre Party in the short term — Savisaar is still their most attractive candidate and biggest vote getter — but in the long term, it is becoming more obvious that the man needs to go. SDE’s departure from the Tallinn city coalition following the scandal did not exactly cause a political earthquake — their share of the city government was small — but it was a symbolic move, one that will remind Savisaar of the challenge the Centre Party would have in forming a parliamentary coalition. And the Centre Party cannot rule the Estonian parliament alone. It needs partners.
The inability of Centre to form a coalition ultimately hurts its voters. If the Reform and IRL parties really represent the interests of those who have benefitted most from neoliberal/conservative economic and social policies, then Centre and SDE should represent the losers (and there are a lot of them). In order for the losers to change the current policies, the power in parliament would have to reverse. That would require a center-left coalition, yet such a coalition is impossible as long as Savisaar stays in power. At the same time, it would be hard to get enough votes to form such a coalition without Savisaar’s name at the top of the list.
It’s likely that no one within the Centre Party wants to tell Savisaar that he has to go. Too many people owe him for their political careers. It would be like firing King Kong. At the same time, they must know that if they ever want to form a coalition in the Estonian parliament, they’ll need a new leader.