All large political forces are promising administrative reform in their election platforms. The topic was one of the most crucial differences between former coalition partners IRL and the Reform Party until the government split a year ago.
IRL has been the most vocal in the debate, proposing a population-center based administrative system, dividing Estonia into around 50 local governments, from the current 200 plus.
“The overwhelming majority understands that we cannot continue as it is. This time around, IRL will go into coalition talks with an ultimatum on the subject. Administrative reform must be pushed through,” former regional minister and current IRL MP Siim Kiisler said.
The Social Democrats, and the Free Party, are proposing a two-level local government system. The plan would see elections at a county level, in addition to municipalities, giving counties powers over transport, education and the environment.
Social Democrat candidate Neeme Suur said they want to strengthen the county level of power.
The Reform Party is continuing its policy of unforced mergers, and if in power, would double the sum paid to local governments for merging.
“One thought, which we want to realize, is to review acts on town and municipalities, which would give different sized and type local governments different rights and obligations,” Kristen Michal, Reform Party MP, said.
The Center Party also backs the current path of motivated, but not forced, mergers. Rivo Noorkõiv, the party's expert on local governments, said different levels of functions for different local governments could be the way forward.
Estonia currently has 213 local governments, a figure which is slightly decreasing each year.
Editor: J.M. Laats