Estonia. A shift occurred in Estonian politics during the
year when the opposition party Social Democrats (S) made a
break-in among voters in the Russian-speaking minority. The
party merged in February with the Russian party, whose
leader Stanislav Tserepanov was elected vice-party leader
under S-leader Sven Mikser. Thus, S took up the fight with
the leading opposition party Centerpartiet (C), which has
traditionally had both Estonian-speaking and
countryaah, the merger shook the political establishment and
threatened parties with few Russian-speaking voters. The
government coalition with the Liberal Reform Party and the
right-wing Alliance IRL accused S of accepting politicians
who denied that Soviet sovereignty in Estonia was an
occupation, but Tserepanov said they used history to divide
Following the merger with the Russian Party, S for the
first time in Estonia's history was led by an opinion poll.
The party received 30% support, closely followed by the
ruling Reform Party. Eventually, the Reform Party regained
its place as the largest party.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip's Reform Party ended in a
political scandal in May when one of the party's former MPs
revealed that he had made thousands of euros in dubious
donations to the party. He claimed that former party
secretary and current Justice Minister Kristen Michal asked
him to donate to the party in his name with money that was
Justice Minister Michal rejected the charges, and Prime
Minister Ansip accused the MP of lying, but prosecutors
launched a preliminary investigation into the affair, which
was to pursue the Reform Party for the rest of the year. In
October, doctors and nurses went on strike with demands for
substantial salary increases, 20% for doctors and 40% for
nurses. The employer offered 6.6%. After almost four weeks
of tangible conflict, an agreement was concluded that would,
among other things, reduce the workload and raise minimum
wages by 23% for nurses, 17.5% for nurses and 11% for
doctors. This would give hourly wages of 2.6 and 4.5 and 8
In October, the opposition demanded a vote of no
confidence in Justice Minister Michal because of the
party-financing deal, but the minister managed. The
Prosecutor's Office closed its preliminary investigation for
lack of evidence. S demanded new elections, claiming that
the only way to reestablish what was termed as the shameful
reputation of democracy.
After growing political pressure, Justice Minister Michal
resigned in December. At the same time, the reform party
fell to 22% in public opinion, while the opposition
supported a majority, with 28% for S and 24% for C.
The country's economy continued to recover after the
financial crisis. For the first three quarters of the year,
GDP growth was about 3% higher than the year before.
However, that meant that Estonia had not yet returned to GDP
levels before the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008.
At the beginning of the year, the average wage in Estonia
was EUR 865, clearly higher than in neighboring Latvia and
Exports continued to grow, albeit at a lower rate, and in
September it was larger than any month earlier in Estonia's
history. Sweden had then taken over Finland's place as
Estonia's largest export market.