The Reform Party’s vision for Future Tallinn

Yoko Alender

The Reform Party's candidate for mayor of Tallinn, Kristen Michal.

Source: ERR

Before the fall of Taavi Rõivas’ government last year the Reform Party were in power for 15 years at the national level. The Center Party meanwhile entrenched in Tallinn, creating a kind of balance between the city and the Estonian national government. Now in opposition, Reform are aiming to depose the Center Party in the capital.

Reform are a center-right party with a focus on business. They are against the introduction of a progressive income tax. Aims include to keep regulation of Estonia’s business environment low and to reduce bureaucracy.

The Reform Party have supported social reform in the past. They are in favor of the Registered Partnership Act and have repeatedly spoken in favor of loosening Estonia’s restrictions on immigration, if mainly to support the country’s businesses.

In Tallinn they are campaigning against the remnants of suspended mayor Edgar Savisaar’s administration, including acting mayor and Center Party leading candidate Taavi Aas.

The Reform Party’s candidate for mayor of Tallinn is former government minister, Kristen Michal. Reform’s platform for the capital covers the following points:

  • Education and a better life for families with children: Estonian-language instruction begins in kindergarten, increasing the salaries of kindergarten teachers by 25 percent and abolishing kindergarten place fees, fixing up all of the city’s kindergartens, supporting extracurricular activities, increasing teachers’ salary minimum to €800, making staffing policy in schools and kindergartens transparent, fixing up stadiums and sports infrastructure of schools, introducing a “cycle strategy” for the city, placing 500 park benches and 500 garbage bins according to residents’ suggestions
  • Active environment and cultural life: promenade along the seaside built along with cycle paths and an exercise track, building a new opera house as Tallinn’s new landmark “similar to Sydney” with the city providing a plot for the project, preferably on the seaside; supporting a sculpture park with an international profile, building a large park for children in cooperation with the private sector, starting an international theatre festival to take place in Pae Park in Lasnamäe; creating an English-language guide app for the old town; building new exercise tracks and publishing a map of the city’s recreational areas and facilities; turning the city’s expiring libraries into modern activity centers; increasing the city’s involvement in cultural events across the city; bringing large international events to Tallinn
  • Good connections, innovative business environment, jobs: creating a “permanent connection” between Helsinki and Tallinn to create a twin-city environment attractive to business; state-of-the-art, effective, and comfortable public transport; expanding Tallinn’s cycle paths; reducing traffic deaths to zero; new tram lines; new buses
  • High-quality and well-maintained city space: fix Tallinn’s roads and increase the allocated budget to €40m; fix up the city’s public space, including the renovation of small streets in the city’s quarters; freeing the city of transit traffic by directing trucks to Muuga Harbor and turning Reidi street into a modern city street, ensuring good traffic flow to Pirita; making parking easier; introducing a zero bureaucracy concept; simplifying planning and permits procedures; a comprehensive city plan for 2030; an app to include residents in city planning; smart solutions for the city and its administration; more cooperation with the private sector; night buses connecting the city’s principal areas
  • “A city for the people, caring Tallinn”: merging the city and state’s health care IT systems; faster and better health care; a new hospital for the city; merging the city’s social services and health care IT systems to simplify services and reducing the number of a resident’s contact points to one; city pension benefits continue; introducing a “Yellow card” for pensioners with discounts for cultural events; generation houses for all city districts; supporting social entrepreneurship and innovation as well as volunteer organizations; service centers for the elderly in every city district, to be established in cooperation with the private sector
  • Expert and transparent city management: the city’s use of its funds is made public, and the budget can be followed in real time; one million per city district over which the residents can decide; shut down Tallinna TV and other city publications that have been abused for party and other propaganda; an ethics code for the city and an anti-corruption program; guiding principles for the city and city council; open hiring rounds every five years for management positions; city assets sold transparently

The Reform Party also have long-term plans for Tallinn that they want to see through by 2030. They include a tunnel to Helsinki, making municipal schools good enough to make them the natural first choice of parents, making Tallinn the green capital of Europe and making it CO2-neutral by 2050, getting its residents to the point where they make at least 10 percent of all their trips by bike, making owning a car unnecessary, and giving Tallinn a world-class seaside city space.

Tartu platform

The Reform Party’s platform for Estonia’s second-largest city focuses on bringing business and the city’s educational institutions together. Beyond that, their goal is to make Tartu “one of the top ten Nordic cities with the best living environment”.

Business and innovation:

  • Increase the transparency of the city’s administration and make it traceable online
  • Start a support fund together with schools and investors to support companies developing out of Tartu’s knowledge and education base
  • Develop a platform for traineeships and jobs based on bringing schools and businesses closer together
  • Double the amount of money allocated to projects residents can vote on
  • Move towards a paper-free administration

Planning and city life:

  • Build a river promenade between Võidu Bridge and Karlova Harbor and develop the River Emajõgi swimming spot into an attractive riverside area
  • Tidy up Jaamamõisa and make it safer
  • Add dog walking grounds in different city districts
  • Build a new recycling centre and ensure everyone in the city collects biowaste
  • Renovate and modernize all schoolhouses in Tartu over the next 12 years
  • Make Tartu the European Capital of Culture 2024
  • Increase salaries in kindergartens and childcare centres and in cultural institutions
  • Estonian instruction starts at the kindergarten level
  • Support extracurricular activities
  • Introduce a support program for talented young people
  • Look for ways to establish a new care home in cooperation with the private sector
  • Increase the number of support specialists who work with children
  • Establish a daycare service for severely disabled children

Transport, traffic, sports:

  • Increase surveillance camera coverage
  • Improve the city’s street lighting
  • Make areas around schools and kindergartens safer
  • Map and mark recreational tracks and hiking trails
  • Build new open air sports fields and playgrounds as well as exercise areas
  • Build a dome on the astroturf football pitch
  • Introduce a network of bike rental stations in Tartu
  • Improve the public transport network

Advance voting started on Oct. 5 and is on until Oct. 11.