EU Scream

White Power in Estonia

June 05, 2019 Season 1 Episode 23
EU Scream
White Power in Estonia
Chapters
EU Scream
White Power in Estonia
Jun 05, 2019 Season 1 Episode 23
EU Scream
The kind of accommodation that allowed EKRE into government in Estonia has echoes with the rise of fascism in the 1930s.
Show Notes

Estonia, a tiny Baltic state, was hit by a giant shockwave in March when a political party promoting white supremacist views won nearly 18 percent of the vote in a general election. A second shockwave hit when Jüri Ratas, the leader of the liberal-left Centre Party, invited the party, called EKRE, to form a coalition government. The powerful interior and finance ministries went to two EKRE leaders, Mart Helme and son Martin Helme; the family double act excels in racism, sexism and homophobia, and their followers spread the alt-right conspiracy theory that immigrant invaders are replacing so-called true Europeans. Last month, fascism defender Jaak Madison became the first EKRE representative to win a seat at the European Parliament. EKRE now has a strong role representing Estonia on the international stage where it threatens the country's carefully nurtured image as an advanced and open society that teems with startups and digital services. With a rather different Estonia emerging — an Estonia where the kind of accommodation that allowed EKRE into government has echoes with the rise of fascism in the 1930s — we travel to the capital Tallinn to hear from people who have taken a stand. Ahto Lobjakas is a former Brussels correspondent whose outspoken commentary at home frequently made him a government opponent. He is now more like an enemy of the state amid creeping censorship and threats to his personal safety. A former president of the country, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, is among those who have come to Lobjakas’ defence. We also talk to two leaders of anti-EKRE protest movements. Kristi Roost helped start the online campaign Kõigi Eesti this year with the goal of preserving Estonia as a respectful and inclusive country. A core group, including Silver Tambur, the co-founder of online magazine Estonian World, has grown to 27,000 members. Click here for Kõigi Eesti's video. Maris Hellrand, a civil society activist and journalist, takes a more direct approach by leading street protests outside Estonia’s seat of government, Stenbock House. She also has helped turn the tables on EKRE by promoting a lapel pin displaying “pink spittle,” which is one of EKRE’s epithets for their opponents. Neither movement was able to stop EKRE from joining the government or the European Parliament. But they are run by determined and imaginative campaigners. To start the show, we check in with Cas Mudde, a Dutch political scientist renowned for his work on populism and the radical right. Mudde offers some general thoughts on EKRE and on whether Moscow may have had a role in its rise, as was the case for some other far-right movements in Europe. Visit our website for episode art and more on EU Scream. “Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125” by Papalin is licensed under CC by 3.0. “Airside No. 9” is played by Lara Natale.

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