Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen. We have arrived. With but a few short weeks left till the election, the Centrist Party has launched a negative campaign against the Reform Party.
As I've mentioned, Reform is the MBA party. They are behind the income tax reduction - down a percent every year until it's 20% - and one of their more tangible slogans so far has been that of Tax Free Friday. They propose to reduce tax to 18%, illustrating it with a somewhat silly TV ad about the manor lord coming to collect from peasants every day, except Friday when they all dance around and celebrate together. It's a very auto-ironical ad, which is why I was surprised to see a Keskerakond ad today, which showed people being denied various basic services - police, healthcare etc. - on Fridays. The packshot said that Reform's plan would reduce the budget, and reduce your salary. Cue the Keskerakond green, with the slogan of "Richer Country, Better Salary".
Now, the obvious issue is that Reform obviously knows about the economy and how to manage it; and even with ever-decreasing income tax, the national budget has swelled by some 130 million Euro per year in proficit. (By law, the Estonian budget has to be balanced. Any more money than they expected gets allocated as an auxiliary budget.) There may be a difference between 18% and 20%, but it was 23% last year and 26% a few years ago; and we've somehow managed to muddle through on even such a pittance. Whereas the Centrists advocate a progressive income tax system, which would raise taxes for upper-middle class and above, and... lower taxes for anyone else.
Now, if we can get away with lowering taxes for everyone - and there's every reason to believe we can - why should we increase taxes for people who work hard and do well for themselves? Estonia is way too young to have entrenched oligarchy. The part-owner of my IPO-ed company, an unassuming programmer person who happened to be in the right place at the right time, is worth billions at 29. (To be fair, he is apparently a really good programmer.)
But an even more interesting observation is the utter moral bankruptcy of Team Savisaar, which have been ravaged by a defeat in the presidential elections, failed to make enough of a mark in the Pronksmess, and are facing yet another lesser-evil coalition of Reform, IRL and Greens come March. I have to concede that Edgar's boys must have enormous balls to come out with this ad, but is this really what the biggest single player in Estonian politics has been reduced to?
Watch this space.