Iva: IRL's image that of a male party

Minister of Social Protection from Järva County Kaia Iva (52) wants to reinforce IRL's recent statehood and security focus with esteem for women and families.

Why did you decide to run for IRL chairman?

I do it with a heavy heart in terms of my personal life. The social domain has plenty of work, and I like being home with my family. The responsibility...

Do you believe you are the right person to pull IRL from the swamp?

I believe I'm the best that's available out there today.

What makes you a better choice than Helir-Valdor Seeder?

Helir-Valdor Seeder is no doubt also a good choice; however, I believe I am a somewhat less zealous conservative.

Perhaps a fiery conservative is just what the doctor ordered?

I believe that plotting a very passionately conservative course would lead us into Conservative People's Party (EKRE) waters. I believe that would not be favorable, and that the party does not expect us to try and compete directly with EKRE. Rather the party needs a slight change and openness.

Those are the words of outgoing chairman Margus Tsahkna.

The party expects it, and I believe the voter does, too. I'm a seeker of cooperation and consensus, and I'm willing to do the dirty work in the party for as long as it's necessary. Until everything that needs to be said has been said and all the plans drawn up. I want to really see a team.

However, what if that team is the same one Tsahkna claims kept him from making changes he believes are necessary? How will you handle that team?

I believe that a team is one where we will talk, discuss goals and how to reach them. Teamwork would be structured and laid out.

What about political games behind your back? There will be strings tugging at you?

Every organization has lines of force; everyone wants their opinion to prevail.

How will you enforce yours?

The goal here would be to find a common opinion. A sensible middle ground as opposed to just my opinion. To finally determine what is sensible for the party and Estonia through its activity.

I'm sure IRL has no shortage of people who would like to turn you into their puppet.

Absolutely. There is always someone who moves for what they want and promotes their own opinion. However, it is the work of a party chairman – or it should be, no matter who they are – to be able to put together a versatile team to work with them. So matters could be discussed in a close circle. To bring together not just friends but also those who feel differently. If a decision is made together, the best solution is born in debates, you will already have coordinated matters.

I'll admit this lengthy declamation caused my mind to wonder. However, fairy tales aside and coming back to how IRL could make itself strong again. During you speech to the general assembly, are you willing to name the conditions under which you are prepared to be the last one to turn off the lights so to speak?

No, I am not prepared to switch off the lights. I'm prepared to keep working on our spine. The first thing is to agree on our spine.

What is that?

For me IRL is an intelligible and a positively boring party on which one can always count. IRL's spine is security, the survival of the Estonian state, and prioritization of its interests.

We will complement that with a working person's and families' ability to cope with dignity and really make sure women – whether already mothers, or not yet – are valued therein. That women would feel safe, confident enough to decide in favor of having children. So children would not go unborn because women do not feel safe. Not just financial security but having a man to support them and share in the work. To give women back security that way.

Women generally do not vote for our party. We have taken steps to support children and families; our third child policy for example.

I want to say women should vote for IRL. Not only because IRL talks about the family, its subsistence, coping, but because IRL really prioritizes women's rights. Not through laws that take a measuring tape to people's rights and equality. We must get to a point where it is the social norm.

Parties are unanimous on that point.

They are not. Or if they are, some of them are better at making it known. However, it is generally accepted that the woman is the neck that turns the head and makes the final decision in terms of whether to have children.

Perhaps there are some educational tools with which to arrive in a situation where men would value women. Irrespective of what party they belong to. That he would offer her support and security. Not by going out there and working himself to death, but by providing the woman with freedom and confidence in terms of always being there.

We are reworking the maternity pay system, and we want to include a month of paternity leave so fathers would spend time at home with small children. Perhaps this will motivate them to spend more time with children and let mothers know they are not the only ones tied to the baby.

Other parties offer much of the same

As a matter of fact, they don't. The Center Party has not proposed additional paternal leave to give mothers more freedom. To make it possible for women to work part-time and not feel chained to the child. While having a baby is a joyous event, at some point women say they want to do other things and be sure they are not the only ones responsible. I believe it is very important to be able to do that.

Your trump card is that you are a woman and would be one as chairman. The Greens are also run by a woman.

Well, yes. While it might not be my strongest trump card, I have worked in education, the social domain, and not only because I'm a woman, and I know this side of things and that it is needed. A man could do it just as well. I believe I carry that message better.

How sharp will your competition with Helir-Valdor Seeder for the position of chairman become?

I believe it will not get out of hand. While we have different opinions, and it has been pointed out we are in the same election district (Järva and Viljandi – ed.), I hope he accepts me, and I have always seen him as a hard worker and serious politician. I believe we are in a constructive competition.

Will there be any other candidates?

I cannot say. There is no one on the horizon at the moment; however, there is still time.

Anneli Ammas
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