In a switch from the previous general elections in 2007, this year’s campaign has seen fewer calls for greater inclusion of fathers in child-rearing and a return to traditional gender roles, according to an analysis by the Praxis Center for Policy Research.
“Although the Reform Party saw supporting fathers and parenthood as a way of preventing single parenthood and related problems, and the Centre Party had re-adopted the ten-day paternity leave, parties’ elections pledges do not reflect a vision of shaping fathers’ lifestyles by increasing their contribution to family life,” said Pirjo Turk and Andres Võrk, the reseachers who analyzed the election platforms of the parties.
They said that although parties all aspired to net population growth, they tend to favor only grants and allowances that would provide an incentive for people to have more children.
Candidates and parties are being more circumspect about what they are promising, said the Praxis researchers. Many of this year’s campaign promises are essentially holdovers from 2007 that were implemented only partially if at all back then.
The researchers said that Reform wants to link support for families with children to actual needs, and leave the benefits system and disbursement procedure as is. The Social Democratic Party is looking to reduce inequality inherent in the payment of income-based allowances.
The social democrats, IRL and the greens want to make the use of parental allowances more flexible. The Green Party also considers it important to balance the short- and long-term allowances payable to families.
All of the major parties pledge to improve child care services – nursery school places are notoriously hard to come by in Estonia.
“The social democrats have the most ambitious and costly promises with regard to supporting families with children; family policy is also a separate priority area in their platform,” the analysis says.
The social dems are followed in terms of budget and ambitiousness by the greens, who have proposed to pay children their trademark “citizen salary” as well.