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The Social Democratic Party has a moderately left-wing worldview. The party’s policies are based on social-democratic values of justice, caring and solidarity, and the protection of civil rights and personal liberty. Social Democrats believe that the state will have to play a greater role in both directing Estonia's development and improving the welfare of its people.

The Social Democratic Party has been represented in all compositions of the Riigikogu after Estonia regained its independence and has repeatedly been in the government coalition over the recent decades. For example, the Social Democrats carried the responsibility of a government party in 2014–2019 and in 2022–2023. They are also a party in the Government formed after the 2023 Riigikogu elections. Social Democrats consider the successful family policy their greatest achievement in the last decade. As a result of that, the number of children living in poverty has decreased by several times and the livelihood of tens of thousands of families with children has improved in Estonia. Estonia has become a country where the birth of a child or having many children do not mean that the family falls into poverty. Had it not been for Social Democrats, the salary increases for teachers, cultural workers, police officers and rescue service officials would have remained considerably more modest. Furthermore, the ministers of the Party, with the support of the parliamentary group, launched a health care financing reform in 2017 and improved the availability of dental care and medicines. In 2022, on the initiative of Social Democrats, the parliament enacted the legislation on the social welfare reform that will enter into force in summer 2023.

Social Democrats stand for a secure, caring and wealthy state and for a free and democratic society. They stand for a strong Estonia where everyone’s confidence and dignity are ensured and where no one is left behind. They unconditionally protect human rights, personal liberty, the fundamental principles of the rule of law, and the free and independent press.

World view

In its activities, the parliamentary group is guided by the ideas that characterise the modern social democracy all over the world. Social Democrats are pursuing to establish a welfare society where equal opportunities and a dignified life are ensured for everyone. Social Democrats also contribute to education and research, thereby investing in the future. They support entrepreneurship and economic development, uphold and develop the Estonian language and culture, and protect the environment. The aim of the Party is to make Estonia a wealthy country that has a smart economy and is innovative, caring, and safe. The Party regards the membership in the European Union and NATO as the main security guarantee for Estonia and therefore stands for good allied relations and a strong and united European Union. The parliamentary group considers the development of civil society as one of its missions.

Political priorities in the short term

The aims of Social Democrats are to lift Estonian people out of in-work poverty and to stop the peripherisation. Many people have not benefited enough from Estonia’s success. Thus, it will be necessary to continue efforts to ensure that the situation of children and families with children would improve and that high-quality education would be ensured to all children and young people, and to take steps that will ensure a dignified old age to everyone. Social Democrats safeguard the Estonian nature and biodiversity and take action towards the transition to renewable energy. Estonia has to be well protected which means both increasing defence spending and contributing to civil protection. Estonia must support Ukraine in every way – militarily, economically as well as politically.

Did you know that a movement linked to this ideology emerged as early as 1905, and thus SDE may be regarded as the political party that has been continuously active for the longest time in Estonia?

History

Social democracy as a political thought has long-standing traditions in Estonia – the Social Democratic Party of Estonia will celebrate its 120th anniversary in 2025.

The Social Democratic Party can also be regarded as the longest continuously active political party in Estonia. A movement linked to this ideology emerged as early as in 1905. Political parties with social democratic views held nearly three quarters of the seats in the first Parliament of the Republic of Estonia, the Constituent Assembly, which convened in 1919. Thus, it was the forerunners of Social Democrats who played a decisive role in founding and developing the Estonian state in the 1920s.

The Estonian Social Democrats belonged to the Socialist International already before the Second World War and their membership was restored after Estonia regained its independence. The Estonian Socialist Party’s Foreign Association that was active in exile carried the continuity of the Party. It merged with three other parties in September 1990 to form the Estonian Social Democratic Party, led by Marju Lauristin, today the Honorary Chair of the Party. The forerunner of the Social Democratic Party, the Moderates (Mõõdukad) was formed in 1996 when the Estonian Social Democratic Party and the Estonian Rural Centre Party merged. Social Democrats spearheaded the pension system, health insurance and unemployment insurance reforms that were implemented in Estonia a few decades ago.

Read more about the history of the Social Democratic Party here.

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Last updated: 21.09.2023

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