University of Tartu professor of constitutional law Ülle Madise has said that over the past two decades, European political parties have become less democratic in their internal matters, and that the latest Reform Party scandal fits into that movement.
Speaking on ETV today, Madise said that countless academic papers have been published on the trends of the previous 20 years, “And they all describe the same thing: internal democracy of parties has turned into a sham. Large parties are so alike that they resemble labelless bottles - before elections a new sticker can be used. They are all the same at the end of the day.”
Madise said that in many countries, including Estonia, party financing laws have rendered membership fees irrelevant, as the parties have become state-funded.
“In reality, what had earlier arrived elsewhere is here now,” said Madise, adding that she sees two paths that can be taken: “If the Estonian political culture goes downhill, expressed by politicians who say they want to save democracy but in reality attack it instead, opting for either a hard-handed approach or total direct democracy, the system based on balance and intelligence that takes into account the interests of different parts of society and is geared towards finding compromises will be destroyed.”
The other path, according to Madise, would be one where decisions are more balanced and people would have a greater chance to participate. The first step would be to admit past violations.
Public voting system suggested
Madise said that even if the current problems are not solved, there is no reason political parties cannot begin to abide by the rules from now on.
One solution suggested by the professor was a public online voting mechanism that would be available to political parties, businesses, local governments, universities and others.
The service, based on Estonia's existing e-voting technology, would be state-run and supervised.
Priit Vinkel, Chief of Staff at the National Electoral Committee, which oversees e-elections, told ERR News that Madise's idea is possible, in theory.
He noted that the current e-voting system is designed for regular elections, however, and making it into a public service would require extensive reorganization.