Analysts Reflect on Coalition Agreement; Little Consensus Found

laine uudised-laine
30. Mar 2011


A week after the Reform – Pro Patria and Res Publica Union coalition agreement was revealed to the public, analysts have not come to a consensus on what the agreement means for civil society. NENO's Chief of Policy Alari Rammo called the agreement “predictably vague” whereas Annika Uudelepp from the think tank Praxis praised its emphasis on public administration reforms and increased participation.

Rammo noted that only two of NENO-s proposals, outlined in its pre-election manifesto, made it into the coalition agreement, as questions of civil society garner little political interest in the current climate. On the other hand, the same coalition recently approved the Civil Society Development Plan, maintaining the hope that civil society is not completely off the agenda of the incoming government.

Rammo named lowering the cap on tax-deductible donations as something that will clearly negatively impact civil society, adding to years of regress in the field of tax-deductible third sector donations. A clear positive signal was the emphasis on participation in the language of the text.

Annika Uudelepp, of Praxis noted that the chapter on civil society was far more substantial than four years ago, when it could be described as “a pot-pourri of everything that did not fit under other headings”. Uudelepp praised the agreement’s emphasis on reform, a verb that appeared under numerous headings in the text. The Praxis analyst pointed out the emphasis on developing e-services and funding the Estonian Civil Society Foundation as clear positives, while remaining sceptical about proposed new initiatives to establish organizations providing “world-view based citizen educations” which could be interpreted as leading to the creation of institutions dealing in “ideological brainwashing”.

Meanwhile, sociologist Juhan Kivirähk noted that many issues critical from the standpoint of civil society and social cohesion have been completely left out from the agreement. “The coalition agreement should be less of a laundry list of things to accomplish in the next four years and more of a framework indicating how to solve the problems of Estonian society with the active participation of civil society”.