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30 Nov, 2020 14:22

Far-right anti-EU Estonian finance minister named country’s ‘most influential person’ by major daily newspaper

Far-right anti-EU Estonian finance minister named country’s ‘most influential person’ by major daily newspaper

The leader of a popular far-right party has been named Estonia’s most influential person. The award was bestowed on controversial politician Martin Helme by daily newspaper Eesti Paevaleht and web portal Delfi.

Helme, who leads the country’s Conservative People’s Party and sits on the cabinet as minister for finance, has been described by some as a eurosceptic and is critical of Estonia’s membership of the EU. The party, which was founded by Helme’s father Mart Helme, has been accused of being xenophobic and racist, with “fascist neo-Nazi sympathies.” 

According to Eesti Paevaleht, Helme is the “bringer of a new political reality and style,” and has “united his supporters and irritated enemies” in the style of US President Donald Trump.

“He has transformed Estonia into a battleground, where all actors are seen as political pawns, and individuals find they are apparently part of some political gambit,” the newspaper’s editor, Urmo Soonvald, wrote

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In 2013, Helme made international headlines after saying“if you’re black, go back,” telling a TV talk show that “Estonia shouldn’t allow things to go as far as in England, France, and Sweden.”

The Estonian Conservative People’s Party came to power following the 2019 election, after gaining 17.8% of the vote and forming a coalition with the Centre Party and the right-wing Isamaa party. As well as opposing immigration, Helme and his party oppose LGBT rights. As part of the party’s ‘10 Commandments’, they pledge to get “gay and multicultural propaganda” out of schools, as well as only permitting education to be conducted in Estonian. As things stand, Estonia has a significant Russian population who are educated in the Russian language. The country’s Russian-speaking population is primarily concentrated around Narva, in the east of the country.

Earlier this month, Helme’s father Mart Helme was forced to resign from his post as interior minister after calling US presidential candidate Joe Biden “corrupt” and saying that Trump would emerge as the winner of the 2020 election.

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