opinion festival 2019

Why the Opinion Festival matters more than ever

As another Opinion Festival rolls around, it might be tempting to say that it’s served its purpose, and that having been taking place in Paide since 2011, it’s now a reminder of a kinder, gentler, bygone age. Not so.

The Opinion Festival, or Arvamusfestival (either name is okay) continues to bring debates to people who may otherwise not have heard them, to pull people out of their social media bubbles, to change their environments and bring a new understanding of someone else’s ideas. And if it doesn’t do that, it at least means members of the public can ask direct questions of public figures, on any from a raft of issues, rather than sending emails, or having a terse exchange online.

Below is the first Opinion Festival/Arvamusfestival English podcast. It’s a discussion with Riina Sikkut (called Riina Soobik in error in the introduction, sincere apologies), a former Minister for Health and Social Affairs with the Social Democratic Party, and Kertu Birgit Anton, a climate change activist. There will be more podcasts and related content throughout the festival.

“The vision of the Association is to revitalise democracy by strengthening the link between a political system and citizens as well as creating spaces for dialogue and participation,” Zakia Elvang, Chair of the Democracy Festivals Association, said, explaining the mission of the Opinion Festival and others that came before and subsequently. In the political and social climate, not only in Estonia but also around the world, we surely need that more than ever.

On this blog, through the course of the festival weekend, we will be writing about the discussions and debates that are had, and also the chance meetings and moments of clarity that often come at the Opinion Festival. You’re welcome to contact us, through Twitter @arvamusfestival, or on Facebook.