The managing committee of Isamaa decided on Tuesday to forward to the party council a so-called debate culture good practice document that would provide grounds for evicting members for publicly criticizing the party.
The debate culture good practice was passed with 11 votes to three.
ERR's information suggests the document was opposed by Tiit Salvan, head of the party's Ida-Viru region, Sirle Rosenfeldt, adviser to MEP Riho Terras, and deputy chair of the Parempoolsed (Right-wingers) in-house group Mihkel Kübar. Marko Pomerants and Sven Sester abstained.
The managing committee decided to forward the document to the party council for approval.
The authors of the initiative want to urge members to discuss the future and solve differences inside the party, Isamaa said via its press representative.
Court of honor chair: Proposals must be constructive as opposed to destructive and accusatory
One of the authors of the good practice initiative, chairman of the Isamaa court of honor Avo Üprus said that every organization – including Isamaa – must work on its organizational culture. "Proposals regarding the party need to be constructive as opposed to destructive and accusatory," he said.
Üprus explained that the party's court of honor has been asked to comment on situations where the public media has been involved in internal affairs on several occasions now.
"The court of honor has been forced to treat with several cases where the public has been involved in sorting out internal affairs of the party. Different compositions of the court have always agreed that this kind of conduct harms the party's reputation. Emphasizing these principles through a managing committee decision is a step aimed at preventing undignified conduct that works to damage Isamaa," he added.
Avo Üprus said he hopes all Isamaa members will adopt these principles and that passing the document will help the party overcome differences in a dignified manner.
Seeder: Not a punitive document
"The document is in no way a punitive measure bur rather one aimed at political and good debate culture and livening up in-house deliberations," Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder told ERR.
"For example, the Riigikogu also has good practice guidelines that lack a direct implementing side."
Seeder maintains that the document does not have an implementing mechanism. "The contents of this document do not include evicting or investigating members," he said.
Asked whether the document follows criticism of the current party leadership from the Parempoolsed group, Seeder said it grew out of Isamaa and is based on more than criticism from the in-house group. Seeder added, however, that the actions of the Parempoolsed have definitely clashed with the principles of good political and debate culture.
Seeder said that Isamaa has had various reasons for evicting members over the years and different attitudes have prevailed at different times. "These have all been individual cases. We do not need an additional document for that," the party chairman explained.
"At the heart of the document we discussed in the committee today is to develop debate culture, as opposed to punishing someone or finding grounds for eviction," Seeder added.
Parempoolsed: Document in serious breach of Isamaa core values
Kristjan Vanaselja, head of the Parempoolsed group that has been openly critical of the party leadership, described the managing committee's decision as unbelievable.
"Core Isamaa values have always included personal freedoms, democracy and free speech. This bill sharply violates all of these ideological tenets," Vanaselja said.
"Looking at the history of the party, we were there to lay the foundation of a democratic country, represented these values all along, while we have now decided to trample said values underfoot."
Vanaselja said on the backdrop of the managing committee's decision that party leadership and organizational culture must change.
He added that he hopes members of the council will not approve the document.
ERR publishes the contents of the document:
Decision of the Isamaa managing committee on the introduction of debate culture good practice
The Isamaa managing committee supports the following principles of debate culture and forwards them to the council for approval:
1. Any differences of opinion between Isamaa members in terms of ideology, policy, program and management will be resolved inside the party.
2. Involving the public media in discussing the party's internal affairs and forwarding in-house information to the press is condemnable and will be considered a dishonorable action based on item 6.2, subitem 2) of the statutes. (The party's managing committee can evict a member based on a motivated decision if the person has committed a dishonorable act – ed.)
3. Public antagonism to the party as well as publicly belittling its ideology, policy, program and members will be considered as damaging the party's reputation based on item 6.2, subitem 3) of the statutes. (The party's managing committee can evict a member based on a motivated decision if the person has committed a dishonorable act – ed.)
Editor: Marcus Turovski