At its today’s sitting, the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) decided to make a proposal to the Board of the Riigikogu to discuss holding the referendum on the definition of marriage at the plenary sitting on 11 January.
Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Anti Poolamets explained that according to the rules of procedure and internal rules of the Riigikogu, proposals concerning the agenda for the next working week had to be submitted not later than by 3 p.m. on the Thursday of the previous working week, and as the current week was the last regular working week of this session, the Committee had made such a decision today. He admitted that the Committee had not been unanimous in that issue.
“The decision made today helps to proceed with the draft Resolution on holding the Referendum, initiated by three political groups. It is necessary for exercising direct democracy,” Poolamets said. “The opposition wishes to take as much time as possible for all things, and there is no other reason behind it except obstructing the proceedings on the draft resolution and crashing the agenda. They have publicly declared that they will use large-scale obstruction to totally block the work of the Parliament.”
Poolamets thinks that the issue is not only the referendum, but whether the Parliament can continue functioning in the normal way. “If we do not react to it, somebody might crash the functioning of the Parliament with thousands of motions to amend,” Poolamets added. “The Riigikogu must be able to work at all times, otherwise the Constitution would not be operational.”
Deputy Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Lauri Läänemets underlined that in such important issues, the Committee had to have time for hearing the opinions of legal experts and reviewing the motions to amend submitted to the draft. However, today’s decision does not take that into account.
In Läänemets’s opinion, the Committee will probably lack time even if the Chair of the Committee summoned extraordinary sittings during the period between the sessions. “With regular sitting, the Committee would have only two hours in the morning of 11 January before the plenary sitting,” Läänemets explained. “It is unclear how it could be possible to do everything in the correct way.”
The draft resolution (288 OE), which proposes to submit to the referendum held on 18 April 2021 the following other national issue “Shall marriage remain a union between a man and a woman in Estonia?”, passed its first reading in the Riigikogu yesterday. In order for the referendum to be held on that date, the Riigikogu has to pass the draft as a Resolution three months before that, or on 18 January at the latest. The deadline for submission of motions to amend the Bill is 30 December.
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