Lauristin: Estonia’s top politicians represent the bygone society

02.01.2013, 16:36

Marju Lauristin, Professor of Tartu University and former MP, says that the Estonian society has come to a critical point, but the country's leaders are unable to embrace the changes that are taking place.

Speaking at a year-end interview to ETV, Lauristin said that it was high time to face the issues and start resolving them, instead of meaningless shuffle and self-admiration.

“What happened this year is like puberty. And this is not the first puberty that people have at about 12 years of age,” said Lauristin, adding that she feels that the state and society is about 21.

“It’s the age when one starts to feel one’s force and looks at critically at things that have so far seemed to be natural. It’s the time when you don’t want others to determine your life, but want to take control of it.”

“Today’s politicians are from yesterday’s society. This is the core issue and my message. Those who came to power in the last decade or one before that are accustomed to a different society. The society that is being shaped right now is a new society. It’s a society of young and older people who have so far remained focused on their own issues and have not taken an active stance. This society is already ready and wants a different way of public governance and a different opportunity to feel themselves.

I feel that there is not only a gap between those who rule and those who are being ruled, but the gap is growing because the people feel that instead of addressing certain problems the rulers prefer to focus on replacement activities.

This is the real reason that people are discontent – it’s not only because of small wages.

In my opinion one of the most important changes in 2012 was that people started to talk about their demands and understanding and wanted to be heard.

Also the press has somewhat changed its attitude. I have always been angry when I see that the press treats the public as children, ie talks to them in simple sentences and focuses only on entertaining issues. I really hope that the press has understood that the people are adults and smarter than the press itself.

Also the politicians understand that they must change their attitude to people. They must understand that this is serious. So far they have thought that all they need to do to involve people is to arrange some seminars, put mineral water on the table and hand out nice pens. It is getting serious.”

Lauristin said that all the negative issues that surfaced this year were actually positive because they will help to develop the civic society.

“Finally, the results of the census have made people think seriously about what social researchers have been saying for a decade. It’s time to recognize tough times and to admit the mistakes of not taking it seriously.

Estonia is small – it’s a fact and law of nature. But the way every Estonian behaves is not a law of nature.

How have we come to the point where we now fear that the country will run out of people? What’s important is that such exodus starts at the top. If hard-working, active and younger people decide to leave for work abroad because they cannot wait until their expectations are met, it will hard for Estonia even to maintain the current position at two-thirds of the European average.

We must understand that we are in a critical point. Actually, Critical Point was also the working title of Charter 12. When we were drawing up the charter we did not write down how this critical point was being manifested because it would have been too long. But we were driven by the feeling that the critical point had been reached and we must start change our mode of operation and attitude, finally face the issues that  will plague us in the next years to come and to try resolve them.