The parties' positions on the left-right spectrum

Taken as a whole, the distribution of the Estonian parties on the left-right spectrum may be seen as balanced and weakly polarised. The most powerful parties are placed left of centre (the Centre Party) and right of centre (the People's League of Estonia, Res Publica, the Fatherland League). Unlike Western Europe, Estonia does not really have leftist parties, nor are there extreme right-wing parties in the arena, of the kind which in some European countries gain a tenth of the vote today. Unlike many central and eastern European countries, the Communist Party in Estonia has been unable to make a political come-back. The Communist Party of Estonia was dissolved in 1992. Whereas in the Soviet period a big majority of people belonged to the Communist Party, then the only party, today in the Estonian political elite one can find people who have had a considerable career in the Communist Party. (For example, the President of Estonia, Arnold Rüütel, and Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for Administrative Affairs.)

Two of the parties represented in parliament have the most clearly defined ideological basis. The Reform Party has throughout its existence striven firmly for a liberal position in its policy documents. The Social Democratic Party declares in its constitution that the Nordic welfare model and the ideals of social democracy are its starting-points. The ideological differences between the remaining parliamentary parties are smaller and harder to ascertain.

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