Today, the results of the population and housing census 2011 were deliberated as a matter of significant national importance in the Riigikogu on the initiative of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction. Reports were by the Head of Methodology of the Population and Housing Census Ene-Margit Tiit, the leader of MTÜ Noor Eesti Andrei Hvostov and the Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee Margus Tsahkna.
Tiit gave a thorough overview of the results of the population and housing census 2011: 1 294 236 permanent residents of Estonia were enumerated, 693,884 of whom were women and 600,352 men. In comparison to the previous population and housing census in 2000, the number of permanent residents has decreased by 75,816 (1 370 052 permanent residents were enumerated in 2000). Tiit noted that the decrease had not been a surprise: due to negative rate of natural increase, the size of the population decreased by more than 30,000 people during the 11 years and 8 months that passed since the previous census, and at the same time the balance of registered emigration is 22,000 people.
Hvostov also stressed that things are bad with the birth rate in Estonia. He underlined that totally novel means to boost the birth rate have to be invented. Hvostov noted that the demographic situation and the political reality are interrelated: families with minor children are marginal voters and therefore they become unattractive in the eyes of politicians. With a view to improving the situation, he made a proposal to constitutionally grant children the right to vote which would be realised by their parents or legal caregivers. At the same time, Hvostov assumed that such a proposal might seem too extravagant, unrealistic, untraditional and opportunistic to some members of the parliament.
Tsahkna noted that during the last twenty years we have become a full member of the European society which has brought many positive aspects but at the same time we have to take into account that our survival as a nation depends on us and no one else. Along with a rise in the quality of life, we have also contracted the “diseases of the Old Europe”. Our population is aging, the number of working-age population is decreasing and the number of new births is small. He added that a precondition for fundamental changes is the change of a paradigm based on streamlining all other objectives to the survival of our nation. “This means that the changes cannot be superficial. They have to begin from fundamental changes in the system which would ensure that particularly families with children have a significantly greater influence in the process of political decision-making,” Tsahkna explained. In Tsahkna’s words, a public discussion regarding a fundamental change of the political system needs to be initiated which would increase the influence of families with children in the making of political decisions. He noted that voting by family would provide such opportunity.
In the debate, different social aspects of increasing the birth rate were discussed. Heljo Pikhof, Liisa-Ly Pakosta, Rein Aidma, Aadu Must, Tõnis Lukas, Jevgeni Ossinovski and Priit Sibul took the floor.
The Riigikogu rejected at the first reading the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (250 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction. The result of voting: 39 votes in favour, 23 against.
The sitting ended at 1.36 p.m.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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