Former Legal Chancellor Commends Rise of More Active Citizenry

Photo; ERR
11/26/2013 1:33 PM
Category: Society

Today is Citizen's Day in Estonia, a chance to reflect on Article 56 of the Constitution, which says the ultimate power is vested in the people.

Allar Jõks, a lawyer and former chancellor of justice, says Estonians have become more bold about speaking out and taking part.

The powers in Article 56 "carry a certain obligation," he said. "This is the appeal of being a citizen, as we gain the benefits of citizenship but also the pain of having to be responsible," Jõks told ETV.

Jõks said the civic projects covered by the media are the tip of the iceberg.

"One sign of increased activity is that the coalition no longer uses the expression that everyone should stick to their row to hoe," he said.

Skeptics say that people are not more active, but rather that the government's work has been lower in quality, leading to more criticism. But Jõks said he disagreed, saying that the quality of those in power would not change unless the citizens were demanding.

He also said that experiencing success was an important factor. "One successful experience covered by the media or shared through communities gives a sense of courage - yes, we are not inept; together we can do it. We have more power than on Toompea [the government] for example."

Jõks added that Estonian society should still be more caring and attentive toward weaker members in society


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