Finance minister: President's pension bill rejection a political act ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Finance minister Martin Helme during the pensions reform debate at the Riigikogu.
Finance minister Martin Helme during the pensions reform debate at the Riigikogu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid dealt a blow to the Estonian constitution in deciding not to promulgate the pension reform bill which recently passed the Riigikogu vote, says finance minsiter Martin Helme (EKRE).

"Kersti Kaljulaid did not surprise us either positively or negatively," Helme told ERR's Indrek Kiisler on Friday.

"Although she repeatedly insisted that her arguments were constitutional, her views are clearly political. This was a political veto and it was ugly, almost as if she lashed out at the constitution," Helme went on.

The action will also lead to the Supreme Court being dragged into politics, Helme said. The Supreme Court can overturn the bill should it decide to and should the Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise take the bill before it.

"We now have a second chamber consisting of an unelected parliament in addition to the elected parliament. This will inevitably lead to the Supreme Court taking up politics," Helme went on.

The bill, which makes the so-called second pillar of the Estonian pensions system voluntary in membership where it had been mandatory for most wage earners since 2010, passed a Riigikogu vote on January 30. The president had 14 days within which to either give assent to the bill or reject it, as here.

According to Helme, the situation will end up where politics gets deal with the courts, forcing the issue of judicial reform on to the agenda.

Helme and his party have repeatedly criticized what they call the politicization of state officials and bodies, including the prosecutor's office and the judiciary.

"How do judges get appointed and how is their worldview evaluated? Voters should thus have the right to appoint and recall judges," Helme argued, adding that the Riigikogu would in any event pass the law unchanged and send it back to the president for approval a second time, thus making it eventually reach the Supreme Court for a ruling.

"Parliament is not dragging this out, and by the end of the summer the Supreme Court may have to give a ruling," he said.

President Kersti Kaljulaid said on Friday that her decision was not political but rather based on the constitutional rigor, or lack thereof, the bill demonstrated.

"I have analyzed this solely and exclusively in the context of the constitution. My opinion on the content of this reform is irrelevant," she said. Concerns about the constitutional aspect of the reform largely hinge on concerns over equal treatment of those who remain in the pillar, who leave it, or who leave it later or who were never in it.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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