Ministry of Justice doesn't support bill to change presidential election procedures

Members of the National Electoral Committee sorting ballots for counting in the runoff round of the presidential elections in the electoral college. Sept. 24, 2016. (Rene Suurkaev/ERR)
10/27/2016 2:40 PM
Category: News

The Ministry of Justice is recommending that the Estonian government not back a bill introduced by the Free Party Parliamentary Group intended to make changes to current presidential election procedures which would guarantee that a president is elected in the electoral college.

According to current procedure, the candidate to win in the electoral college is the one to earn a majority of the votes of all those who participated in the vote. The bill submitted by members of the Free Party would introduce a change to the procedure by which, when tallying the votes, blank or spoiled ballots would not be counted, in effect removing the current quorum requirement, and the candidate to receive the most votes would be declared the winner.

The bill also seeks to repeal provisions which would send the elections back to the Riigikogu if the electoral college failed to elect a president.

The Ministry of Justice has recommended that the Estonian government not back the bill as it is unconstitutional. The ministry found that the bill would not allow for voters to be free in their choices, which also includes the right to either mark or leave their ballot blank according to their own convictions.

The ruling coalition, which consists of the Reform Party, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL), has formed a work group in the Riigikogu dedicated to discussing the issue of whether or not changes to the current election procedures are needed.

The work group, led by MP Rait Maruste (Reform), also includes MPs Lauri Luik (Reform), Mart Nutt (IRL) and Andres Anvelt (SDE) as well as Minister of Justice and former MP Urmas Reinsalu and Minister of Culture and former MP Indrek Saar.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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