Over 100 bills will go unprocessed after Riigikogu dissolution

MPs at the XIV Riigikogu.
MPs at the XIV Riigikogu. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The dissolution of the XIV Riigikogu ahead of the March 5 elections will leave work on over 100 draft bills incomplete, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Tuesday.

These bills will be scrapped in order to clear the decks so the XV Riigikogu composition can start afresh, once it is elected and installed.

The last working day of the XIV Riigikogu is February 23, ie. next Thursday. Friday, February 24, is Independence Day and a national holiday, while advance voting for the Riigikogu election starts the following Monday.

Unusually, all the parties represented at the XIV Riigikogu were or are in coalition at one point or another, between MPs taking up their seats in April 2019, and the present.

This is because there have been three coalitions – Center/EKRE/Isamaa (April 2019 to January 2021), Reform/Center (to June 2022) and Reform/Isamaa/SDE (to present) – during the electoral cycle, rather than the more common two.

Also, just five parties were represented, compared with six at the XIII Riigikogu (the current parties along with the now-defunct Free Party).

Of the 100-plus bills still not finalized, some may make it through before the XIV Riigkogu starts work, or return in a similar format at the next Riigikogu.

One of these, Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder told AK, is the legislation on the public display of Soviet-era symbols, including those which are an integral part of architectural design.

Helir-Valdor Seeder. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Seeder said this still requires promulgation by President Alar Karis.

"If the president really opts not to announce it by the time sittings of this [Rigiikogu] composition have terminated, then yes, it will not become enter into effect in this time," he said.

Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MP Henn Põlluaas, who was Riigikogu speaker in the earlier half of the current Riigikogu's term, expressed regret that a planned marriage referendum did not come to fruition.

Henn Põlluaas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Põlluaas said: "It is a great pity. This was one of the reasons why the liberal parties overthrew the then-government."

The marriage referendum would have asked the public whether marriage should be constitutionally defined as a legal union between one man and one woman, but was canned late on in 2020.

Meanwhile Reform MP and deputy whip, Erkki Keldo, said legislative developments and positions on national defense had been positive and largely unifying.

Erkki Keldo. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Keldo said: "In recent years, a defense budget of more than one billion [euros] has in fact been approved quite unanimously, and the Riigikogu has also in fact adopted different resolutions in support of Ukraine."

Center was also satisfied by the eventual rise in old age pension and child and family benefits, even as its own legislative efforts to do this did not make it past the first Riigikogu reading, last spring/summer.

On the other hand, the party's chief whip, Jaanus Karilaid said that another Center policy, of setting up direct presidential elections, had not yet made it through.

Jaanus Karilaid. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Karilaid said: "We submitted the bill on direct presidential elections in the Riigikogu chamber. There number of supporters has gone up and down, but ours will not give up. Sooner or later, direct presidential elections will come."

Estonia's presidents are elected by Riigikogu ballot in the first instance followed by regional electoral college ballots if needed. Should this round prove inconclusive too, the ultimate decision is down to a council of Riigikogu elders.

Social Democratic Party (SDE) MP Indrek Saar said that consensus on energy benefits was still needed, as well as on nursing home places.

Indrek Saar. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

One much publicized bill to have fallen by the wayside concerns the national forestry development plan, which Isamaa in effect scuppered at the final hurdle.

Helir-Valdor Seeder reiterated his party's line that the plan as presented by the environment ministry contained inconsistencies which could not be ironed out in the next week-and-a-half.

Saar meanwhile said of this development that: "In my opinion, it is certainly not a very patriotic move to throw it in the trash at the last minute. For five years, hundreds of people have directly battled with [the paperwork of] this issue."

The Riigikogu elections take place March 5.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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