Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise commented the government’s internal discussion of potential procedural changes as a move “neither demanded nor forbidden” by the Constitution. Extending the prime minister’s role though was a step that could bring down the coalition.
Madise said that one of the perceived problems behind the Justice Minister’s memo could be that things weren’t moving in the government, and that decisions were delayed. She pointed to an analysis of the Estonian Cooperation Assembly, a local think tank founded by former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves in 2007, according to which there are two main reasons for the current situation.
“One reason is inherent to any coalition government. If one of the partners is simply against a particular issue, then things don’t move. Even if it is part of the coalition agreement to get to a decision in the matter of, say, the funding of private schools, and now there’s still clear disagreement, then I’m afraid if the prime minister now puts pressure on one of the parties, this could mean and in the international context often does mean the end of the coalition,” Madise said.
The second reason was that the ministries and officials were overextended. This situation dependend on the government’s priorities, the chancellor said, and instead of solving particular problems, the government concentrated on this kind of replacement activity.
This applied to the number of ministers in the government as well. In the opinion of the chancellor, what needs to be done before the upper limit of that number is given up is specify what exact problem they are trying to solve.
The limitation was currently prescribed by law, which meant that any change would be preceded by a debate in the Riigikogu, Madise said. “I imagine there would be the question in the Riigikogu if the aim really is to increase the number of ministers, or if the real reason is to get more taxpayer-funded positions for political appointments,” she added.
At the same time, ministers with special tasks were needed, Madise opined, though they could be appointed as one of the 15 the current law allowed for.
Editor: Dario Cavegn