Top court: Candidates' inaccurate residence information may be challenged

The Supreme Court in Tartu.
The Supreme Court in Tartu. Source: Silver Gutmann/riigikohus

The Supreme Court finds that local government council elections' candidates are within their right to demand local authorities check the residence data of rival candidates as so-called political tourism could reduce their chances of being elected.

The case concerned complaints from three local elections candidates of the Isamaa party in Elva Municipality. The complainants found that four candidates of elections coalition Sinu Elva Vald and the Reform Party should not have participated in elections as they were not Elva Municipality residents at the time.

The complainants described the practice as political tourism where people register as residents of local governments before elections without actually living there that distorts election results and clashes with the Constitution as local matters need to be decided by local residents who know local needs.

The candidates wanted the administrative court to order the Elva Municipality to alter the residence data in the population register of candidates whose true place of residence is elsewhere. The court rejected the complaint due to lack of the right to appeal, which the circuit court upheld.

Supreme Court: Legitimate suspicions need to be verified

The Supreme Court Administrative Chamber on Tuesday revoked the administrative and circuit court judgments and returned the matter for review by the former. The chamber found that the elections participation of candidates who might have been living elsewhere could have harmed the complainants' chances of being elected.

The Supreme Court found that state register data needs to be accurate, timely and clear. A person cannot have a legitimate expectation to be able to provide registers with incorrect information. If the local government receives evidence that creates reasonable doubt that an incorrect place of residence has been entered in the register, the data needs to be verified.

The chamber also found that if a candidate has already been elected to the council but turns out not to be living in the municipality, it could result in the premature termination of their mandate.

The Supreme Court Constitutional Review Chamber dismissed a similar election complaint last year as, unlike local governments, the National Electoral College has no right or possibility to determine a person's physical place of residence.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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