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Estonian Parties at present and a generally reflection on their importance to a modern democracy

Essay 2007 9 Seiten

Politik - Internationale Politik - Region: Russland, Länder der ehemal. Sowjetunion


- Table of contents -

1. Introduction

2. Tasks and functions of a political party
2.1 Different possibilities to explain what a political party is
2.1.1 General explanation
2.1.2 Political party according to Max Weber
2.1.3 Political party according to Sigmund Neumann
2.1.4 Estonian Political Party Act
2.2 Tasks and functions in a multi-party system with coalition governments
2.2.1 Relation society ↔ state
2.2.2 Parties in the government

3. Political parties in Estonia at present
3.1 Reform party (Eesti Reformierakond)
3.2 Centre Party (Eesti Keskerakond)
3.3 Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica (Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit)
3.4 Social Democratic Party (Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Erakond - SDE)
3.5 Greens (Eestimaa Rohelised)
3.6 People‘s Union of Estonia (Eestimaa Rahvaliit)
3.7 Other parties

4. Prospects and visions

5. sources

- Enclosures -

Parliamentary elections 2007, preliminary results 9

1. Introduction

If people talk about politics and political parties, you can often hear about dissatisfaction with the system and the political parties in general. Also some politicians explain us, that they have “the solu- tions” and that they know best what “their” people want1. But history teaches us, people knowing the only truth became the biggest murderers in history: Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

So the question is why parties are need and what there function for a modern parliamentary democ- racy is. This short essay also contains an overall view of the political parties in Estonia.

2. Tasks and functions of a political party

2.1 Different possibilities to explain what a political party is

2.1.1 General explanation

The word party has it’s origin of the Latin word “pars”. “Pars” means to be a part of the whole. On the one hand it means a party is one part of the society. But on the other hand, if you compare how many people are members of a political party2 in Estonia, or how many of the Estonian population go to the parliament elections3, you have to say a party is only a part of the citizens, being political active. However “pars” has also the meaning of belonging together or being part of a special group.4

2.1.2 Political party according to Max Weber

In the centre of Max Weber’s political researches power is the most important thing. For him power is “every opportunity within a social relationship to have one‘s way even there is opposition”56. So a political party is a group, which is moving towards the power and of course it is in competition with other groups to come into power. So the main aim of a party is to rule. Otherwise this definition of Max Weber is a little bit simplified and doesn’t cover all aspects of a party because there a lot of people being a member of a party and who are not only interested in moving towards the power. They become members because parties are also social groups.

In his theories there is another very important reflection. Parties (should) have the function to con- nect the state with the society7.8

2.1.3 Political Party according to Sigmund Neumann

S. Neumann introduced three characteristics to define what a party is:9

- Program: Of course the theories and aims of a party can change, but behind the daily politics there must be a kind of ideology.
- Organization: It could be more formal or even very open.
- Fighting character: The volition to a political action to take over posts in the state. This is very similar to Weber and this point separates political parties from civic action groups, NGOs10 and ordinary clubs.11

2.1.4 Estonian Political Party Act

§ 1 of the act defines the essence of a party: “A political party is a voluntary political association of Estonian citizens […] and the objective of which is to express the political interests of its members and supporters and to exercise state and local government authority.”12

2.2 Tasks and functions in a multi-party system with coalition governments

There are two complete different possibilities of the relation between state and society:

- In authoritarian or totalitarian states society and state are separated. So the state has the task to rule over the people.
- State and society are interdependent, because the people are free, they have the power and the state has the duty to look after the people.

Nowadays Estonia is ranked to the second alternative. State and society are a kind of union. Instead of being a direct democracy, Estonia is a parliamentary democracy. So there has to be a connection between state and the people. The main connection consists of the parties. Finally they have the function to form a political will of the people.13

2.2.1 Relation society ↔ state

To link the state with the people, parties have to manage lots of different tasks:

- Organization of elections: They advertise for their aims, they ask the people to go to the elections and because of the fact that there is competition between the parties; every party is interested in fair elections.
- To have success in the elections they are searching for political personal, who is represent- ing the party.
- Articulation of the people’s interest: Parties never represent the whole society. Traditionally they represent only a class or a social background in the society. Sometimes parties – mostly populist parties14 – are also a catalytic converter for political, social and/ or economical dis- satisfaction.
- Every party in a multi-party system looks after its own opinion. So a balance of the people’s interests takes place – at least by the number of seats, which every party gets in the parlia- mentary elections.
- People have the opportunity to found their own parties, to get members of existing parties or only to vote for one of the parties. Therefore they can participate in the power which is why the political system is legitimated by the parties or you can say by the people. But a political system will only be legitimated lastingly if the parties stand for human rights and the protec- tion of minorities.15

2.2.2 Parties in the government

In a parliamentary democracy with separation of powers the parties are the legislative power. But to rule, first the parties must make some decisions:

- They have to form of the government.
- That’s why the government is separated into coalition and opposition.
- But also there is a division of the parliament seats into factions. Throughout the factions you can get a general idea of the society and their main trends.


1 T. Meyer, Populismus in Europa, P. 81 f.

2 For example compare 3.6

3 total votes for the parliament elections: 1992 – 67,8 %, 1995 – 69,1 %, 1999 – 57,4 %, 2003 – 58,2 %; Elec- tions in Estonia; University of Aberdeen

4 P. Lösche, Informationen zur politischen Bildung Ausgabe 292 (IpB 292), P. 7

5 Max Weber, German sociologist, 1864 - 1920

6 original in German: „jede Chance, innerhalb einer sozialen Beziehung den eigenen Willen auch gegen Wider- stand durchzusetzen“

7 compare 2.2

8 P Lösche, P 7 f.

9 German political scientist, 1904 – 1962

10 non-governmental-organization

11 P. Lösche, P. 8

12 Estonian Language Centre; Political Parties Act

13 P. Lösche, P. 13 f.

14 T. Spier in Populismus in Europa, P. 33 ff.

15 P. Lösche, P. 12 f


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
446 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Andrássy Gyula Budapesti Német Nyelvü Egyetem
Estonian Parties Comparative History Estonia Nordic Cultures

Titel: Estonian Parties at present and a generally reflection on their importance to a modern democracy