EKRE success cause for rejoicing, says anti-cohabitation act campaigner (6)

People demonstrating against the cohabitation bill in front of the Parliament in 2014 (Martin Dremljuga/ERR)
3/4/2015 10:39 AM
Category: Politics

Varro Vooglaid, who led a well-organized campaign against the Cohabitation Act, said the success of Conservative People's Party (EKRE) in making it into Parliament is good news.

Although no IRL member voted for the act, which gives same-sex couples more legal rights, EKRE was the political force which fiercely campaigned against the Reform Party and Social Democrat bill.

Vooglaid said he and his NGO, the Foundation for the Protection of Family and Tradition, are happy that the coalition which pushed through the bill, no longer has a majority.

Mart Helme, chairman of EKRE, has said his party will only join a coalition if the bill is repealed. “We are not against it – be they same-sex or whatever sex – to regulate their problems with legislation, but that certain bill is poor and badly written and we cannot support it in its current state,” Helme said.

Although the bill only passed by a hair in September, with a 40-38 vote (10 abstentions and 13 absent MPs), a number of implementing acts will have to be passed by the new Parliament in 2015 for the bill to take effect in 2016.

The Cohabitation Act should enter force in 2016 and allow cohabitating couples, irrespective of the gender of either partner, the right to register their relationship at a notary and enjoy the kinds of financial benefits conferred by marriage. The final version also provides for the possibility of adoption by unmarried cohabiting couples.

It is very difficult to predict if implementing acts will be passed as no party held party discipline during the vote in September.

Final votes

ERR News will attempt to estimate how the Cohabitation Act is likely to fare in the new Parliament:

EKRE is likely to vote against in full force, so seven votes against.

The Free Party has billed itself as a more modern version of IRL and could vote for. But Andres Herkel, the Free Party's head, has spoken out and voted against the bill in September, and the party released a press release saying the bill, in its current form, is unacceptable. As the party is unlikely to have much political discipline, and considering two of its MPs are not party members and the negative press it would create, all eight MPs are unlikely to vote against. Verdict: 4 against and 4 for the implementing acts.

Not one IRL MP voted for the bill in September, but many did abstain. Of the 14 MPs in the new Parliament, one abstained, three are new and 10 voted against. The lack of pressure from any upcoming elections could cause a few IRL MPs to be more brave, but most are likely to vote against. Verdict: 12 against, 2 for.

The Social Democrats were the anti-IRL in the question in September, with no MP voting against the bill. Only one of the few Social Democrat MPs to abstain in September was reelected. Again, since there is less pressure from elections, a few could vote against or abstain. Verdict: 2 against (or abstain), 13 for.

The Center Party is far harder to call, as many voted for and many against in September. Of the 27 MPs in the new Parliament, three previously backed the bill, seven voted against, six abstained and 11 are new, such as Edgar Savisaar, who is the Mayor of Tallinn. If we proportionally split the abstained group and remove the new MPs, it is statistically likely 10 Center Party MPs will back the bill in the second round, while 17 will vote against.

The Reform Party did not keep discipline in September and seven MPs voted against the bill, although four of them are not in the new Parliament setup. Another seven Reform Party MPs abstained. Verdict: 5 against, 25 to back the implementing acts.

The total figures are: 54 MPs are likely to support the implementing act, 47 against.

This is a very rough estimate at best as the umber of votes on implementing acts will be greater than just one or two. Many MPs will also head for the government, opening the door to new MPs, and many will also decide to keep their current jobs, especially in Center Party ranks, if they miss out on government.

J.M. Laats

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