President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Lauri Hussar emphasised at the opening sitting of the Autumn Session that ensuring the ability to work of the parliament was the duty of all its members and proposed involving experts in the discussions to find a solution to the continuing confrontation.
In his speech at the opening sitting of the session, Hussar said that the current times and our future goals demanded that, besides strengthening our security, we also conducted deep parliamentary debate in many key areas of Estonia’s future. He mentioned Estonia’s contribution to education, as well as discussions on the environment and the need to sort out the state finances.
“All vital and major decisions in Estonia are to be made in the Riigikogu. In order to secure high-quality and thoughtful decisions, we need high-quality debate. We can do this by remaining respectful towards each other and also willing to engage in a debate,” Hussar underlined, pointing out that the parliamentary working rhythm had been seriously disturbed since spring and the Riigikogu was flooded with interpellations and Bills.
According to Hussar, many of the more than 500 Bills and interpellations have been submitted for obstructive purposes, therefore it was necessary to restrict their submission during the Spring Session. “The parliament also has several other functions under the Constitution besides ensuring the right of the MPs to submit Bills and interpellations. Another key task of the parliament in addition to parliamentary debate is passing resolutions and legislation,” he said.
“Ever since spring, the Board of the Riigikogu and the Council of Elders have spent countless hours and huge amounts of energy to find a common ground that would in some way help reduce the burden of interpellations and Bills that has been set on the shoulders of the parliament, but sadly to no avail so far. It is easy to say that the parliament needs to solve all the conflicts in its work internally. I one hundred percent agree. This is why I remind all the Members of the Riigikogu that ensuring the parliament’s ability to work is the duty of all its members, and it follows from their oath of office. It is unthinkable that ensuring this ability to work would come at the price of hindering the Riigikogu from fulfilling all its constitutional functions,” Hussar emphasised.
He called on all Members of the Riigikogu to contemplate how they could ensure that both the rights of the opposition and the also coalition were protected, and whether the rules of procedure of the Riigikogu needed amending in that respect. “But I would go even further. Because we find ourselves in a fairly novel situation, I propose setting up an initiative that would involve an even wider range of people. This would not be the first time to involve civil society and experts into resolving a political impasse, and the results have been positive before,” Hussar said.
The President of the Riigikogu noted that he would like to involve experts of constitutional law, as well as previous Presidents of the Riigikogu and renowned experts in relevant fields in the initiative of resolving the confrontation, so that a solution could be found to the current situation by means of deliberative democracy. “The key question is how to overcome the conflict in the parliament so that the majority could implement its policies and the minority had the right to be heard. Another topic is how and when to use the votes of confidence approach in making decisions. An outsider’s viewpoint could be the useful input that would spark the discussion on possible solutions in the Riigikogu working groups,” he said.
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