Civic portal receives record number of petitions in 2021

A petition against fur farming in Estonia this year (photo from a protest outside the Riigikogu last year) led to a change in the law in June, banning the practice.
A petition against fur farming in Estonia this year (photo from a protest outside the Riigikogu last year) led to a change in the law in June, banning the practice. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A record number of civic initiatives have been signed via the Citizen Initiative Portal in 2021, with more petitions gaining the thousand or more digital signatures for them to qualify for Riigikogu consideration in the first seven months of the year so far, than in the whole of 2020. The addition of an option to address petitions to local authorities has also boosted the number of applications.

A total of over 52,000 digital signatures have been given to the various petitions so far this year.

One petition via the Citizen Initiative Portal has even led to a change in the law, namely by banning fur farming in Estonia.

Kadri Org, democracy expert at the Estonian Cooperation Assembly, (SA Eesti Koostöö Kogu, which manages the site) said that: "While legal amendments are one of many ways for solving a problem presented in a petition, this marked the second time when a collective address has prompted the changing of legislation."

In general, Org added that: "Interest is growing, and in the first half of this year, a total of seven petitions have been relayed to local governments, including to the City of Tallinn, where a petition needs to get 4,000 digital signatures from city residents to be admitted into handling."

Twenty-two petitions to the parliament – the Riigikogu – have joined the seven to local authorities through the first seven months of 2021, with topics of concern including social issues, Org said. The option to appeal to local government only appeared this year.

Last year, 20 petitions digitally signed by at least 1,000 people went to the Riigikogu. Many other petitions would have been initiated, but not met the required number of signatures to reach parliament.

Citizen Initiative Portal for participating in democracy which enables citizens, interest groups and civil society organizations to address the state and local region in the interests of open governance, transparency and dialogue and cooperation between citizens and decision-makers, its organizers say.

It is funded via donations and also via a component in the state budget.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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