Academic journal article Trames

The Transforming Structure of the EU and Estonian Politics: Some Aspects of the Freedom of Association at European Level

Academic journal article Trames

The Transforming Structure of the EU and Estonian Politics: Some Aspects of the Freedom of Association at European Level

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Demonstrating the importance of political parties operating at European level mainly through their functions of shaping the political landscape of Europe by organizing elections and reflecting the political landscape of pluralist Europe, the article opens scientific and normative concepts of "political party" and "political party operating at European level", distinguishing Europarties from political foundation at European level. The author in parallel explains political-historical background of Europe and Estonia, views political parties operating at European level comparatively to political parties of a EU member state, Estonia, and political representation in the European Parliament, gives an overview of Estonia's representation in Europarties, and tries to connect the analysis with attempts to coordinate European politics.

The importance of the research underlying this article lies in contextualising the relevant normative developments with explanations of the nature of politics and representation in Europe on historical background, of transformation of Estonian politics on the European political landscape from communist one-party system toward plurality, and of the inner trend toward greater cooperation in the framework of discursive plurality or even features of duopolism in political competition that may sometimes refer to political opposition as known from the Cold War era that may very generally be understood as the East-West opposition. (1) Political competition and political opposition are different phenomena--while one can see continuity in party competition, one may see discontinuity in political opposition. Continuity and discontinuity here could be understood similarly to their meanings in the history of human rights, where continuity marks the more permanent values, while discontinuity marks politicization of human rights. Being a lawyer with human rights research background, I could also explain as follows: discontinuity refers to the political nature of human rights--the existence of political mechanisms is required for their validation and implementation, politicians have used and use human rights for achieving political aims, while continuity refers to emanation of human rights from something more continuous than pure political processes, being connected with human nature and inner moral rules of societal-political co-existing.

Concerning the research methods, I have tried to apply scientific and normative concepts and understandings of political party toward political parties at European level, in order to understand how the features that are characteristic to political parties show with the political parties at European level.

This article aims at offering a structural analysis of transformation of political parties in Europe rather than at content analysis of political ideologies. The author has used several internet sources because not all of the manifestos and other documents of all the Europarties have been published on paper. The use of internet sources seems also justified in the rapidly developing information society, where it is difficult for traditional publications to adequately reflect all of the most recent developments.

The article focuses on the registered political parties at European level, whereas one should also be aware of the existence of other political movements and groups as a source of direct legitimacy, the latter do not constitute an object of this research.

The analysis of manifestos and other documents at European level allowed the following contextualizing findings: the European People's Party (EPP) determines itself as representing centre-right and the idea of federal Europe; the Party of European Socialists (PES) determines itself as a left-wing party, bringing together in the EU the socialist, social-democrat and labour parties; the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) supports liberal democrat values; the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) determines itself as a conservative, non-federalist political entity; the Party of the European Left (EL) claims to represent non-socialist left-wing; the European Democratic Party (EDP) determines itself as a transnational political movement combining federalist and social aspiration; the European Alliance for Freedom (EAF) does not define itself on the left-right political scale, allowing members with wide political spectrum, but at the same time looking at the content of its activities, it opposes centralized, supranational control; the Alliance of European National Movements (AEMN) determines itself as a Christian confederalist party; the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) determines itself as a Christian-democratic political party, representing Christian socialists, embracing European Christian-democratic and Christian-social parties, NGOs and think tanks; the EU Democrats (EUD) does not take a position on left-right policy issues, although it considers itself a pan-European EU-critical alliance; etc. …

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