Work group on state institution effectiveness to weigh cutting number of MPs

The Session Hall of the Riigikogu. (Siim Lõvi/ERR)
10/13/2016 3:36 PM
Category: News

A work group being formed alongside the Riigikogu’s Constitutional Committee will be expected to submit its proposals next spring regarding how to make the work of state institutions more efficient; this will also entail a critical look at the work of the Riigikogu and, if necessary, a reduction in the total number of MPs.

Multiple jurists have previously stated that state reform cannot be executed without the Riigikogu also reviewing its own work, and reducing the number of MPs was one idea also brought up by the the people. A work group made up of the leaders of all six parliamentary groups will begin analyzing how to more efficiently conduct the work of the Riigikogu, reported ETV’s nightly news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

"We certainly haven’t discussed what that number could or should be,” noted Constitutional Committee Chairman Kalle Laanet (Reform). "We have only discussed the fact that state reform without reforming the Riigikogu is certainly neither functionally nor numerically state reform. We certainly can’t have taboos. What the number will end up being will certainly be on the table at some point, but not today."

A reduction in the number of MPs would also require a change to the Constitution. Rait Maruste (Reform), a member of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, noted that the number wasn’t the issue and was really only just the first step.

"From there a great number of other laws must be amended as well — the Riigikogu’s Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act and all others tied to the size of the Riigikogu and its committees," Maruste explained. "Then it’s likely necessary to review the size and competences of the Riigikogu’s committees."

Constitutional Committee member Mart Nutt (IRL) said that this would actually mean a thorough review of the relationships between Estonia’s state authorities.

"I have always stressed that the Constitution should not be changed lightly," he said, adding that if any changes to it were being considered, he’d expect a fairly serious justification for doing so.

In Laanet’s opinion, now would be the right time to consider not the values but other parts of the Constitution, or how the state could be made more reasonable.

Among other counterarguments brought against cutting the number of MPs is the concern that it would become more difficult for small parties and independent candidates to make it into the Riigikogu.

The work group has promised to present their proposals to the Riigikogu next spring.

According to Laanet, a debate on the state reform is scheduled for the Session Hall of the Riigikogu in December in which an overview will be provided of current progress and accomplishments related to the reform.

Nutt, on his part, found that it was likely that the debate will end up a much lengthier one than currently expected.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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