Marriage referendum draft will reach Riigikogu soon, date to be agreed

Minister of Finance Martin Helme.
Minister of Finance Martin Helme. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Chairman of EKRE and Minister of Finance Martin Helme said the coalition is very close to reaching an agreement on the marriage referendum but it is still not clear whether the vote will take place on the same day as the local elections.

The coalition may hand over the draft referendum on the concept of marriage to the Riigikogu either this week or next, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Monday.

The Democracy Working Group is working to clarify the timing and issue of the referendum on the concept of marriage.

"We have the text of the draft and the basis of the explanatory memorandum. What is being discussed is whether it will be held on the exact same day as the local elections or whether it makes sense to maneuver a bit on that date," Helme said.

"The coalition agreement states that it will be on the same day as the local elections, and the coalition partners have other proposals. We are discussing this, I believe that we are very close to this solution or agreement and if not this week, then we will hand over the draft next week."

Marriage referendum

A referendum on the concept of marriage was agreed in the coalition agreement when the government was formed in March 2019. Pushed by EKRE, it would seek to add a definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman to the constitution.

EKRE want the referendum to be held at the same time as local government elections on October 17, 2021. Critics have argued this will push aside important local issues and cause complications as not everyone in Estonia can vote in both the local election and the referendum.

EKRE has suggested the question: "Are You in support of a proposal to supplement the Estonian Constitution § 27 with the sentence 'Marriage is a lasting union between one man and one woman?" It would be a "yes" or "no" question but it has not been agreed upon by the coalition.

Opposition politicians are opposed to the referendum with Reform Party leader Kaja Kallas calling it "an EKRE provocation others should not join", while the chairman of the Social Democrats (SDE) Indrek Saar has called it a "hate referendum".


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Editor: Helen Wright

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