A working group of the coalition that is discussing possible changes to the presidential election procedure is considering a constitutional amendment that would dispose of the three ballot rounds in the Riigikogu, and instead have the electoral college choose the head of state.
Other possible changes include an extension of the president’s term from five to seven years while limiting their time in office to a single term, daily Postimees wrote on Tuesday. A president can currently serve two.
According to the procedure as it is currently required, the task of electing the president lies with the Riigikogu. If the Riigikogu can’t agree on a new head of state in three ballot rounds, the task is then passed on to an electoral college made up of municipal representatives as well as all members of parliament.
The currently ongoing administrative reform might require changes to the composition to the college itself, as the number of municipalities will shrink drastically, and with it the number of representatives sent to the college. The coalition parties are of the opinion that representatives of municipalities should still make up two thirds of the college, which is why the procedure of choosing the municipalities’ deputies would have to be adapted as well.
Further changes the working group is considering include reducing the number of votes necessary for a candidate to win the run-off round in the college. Where a candidate currently needs two thirds of the votes to win, simply having more votes than the other would suffice.
Aim: Avoid a repetition of last year’s rather lengthy procedure
The working group is one of the aftereffects of last year’s presidential elections. After the Riigikogu proved incapable of choosing the next head of state, the election moved on to the college — and failed there as well.
It then went back to the Riigikogu, where none of the previous candidates ran anymore. Instead, President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor (SDE) convened a so-called council of elders, where the chairpersons of the parliamentary groups together with the Board of the Riigikogu agreed on a compromise candidate, who was duly elected: President Kersti Kaljulaid.
There was broad criticism of the way the election developed. That none of the candidates that had campaigned, faced each other off in debates, and thoroughly introduced themselves to the public eventually became president, but that the top echelons of the national parliament eventually chose a single candidate did not sit well with the broader Estonian public, and was received with harsh criticism by many politicians as well.
Editor: Dario Cavegn