New Riigikogu lineup to include flurry of MP substitutions

Opening sitting of the XIV Riigikogu's 2022 fall session. September 12, 2022.
Opening sitting of the XIV Riigikogu's 2022 fall session. September 12, 2022. Source: Erik Peinar/Riigikogu

Right out of the gate, the XV Riigikogu set to take office next week will see a spate of substitutions, as some alternate members are slated to serve as MP for the entire four-year term ahead while others will be filling in for elected representatives for just a week or two.

Last Thursday, March 30, the National Electoral Committee (Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon, VVK) officially registered the 101 MPs of the XV Riigikogu (link in Estonian) as determined by the elections to conclude March 5 as well as the list of alternate members (link in Estonian) that will be used as the basis for MP substitutions for various reasons.

The list of MPs was published in the State Gazette on Friday and entered into force Saturday, April 1.

First, those elected who, at the time the election results were announced, were serving in an office incompatible with the work of an MP must report within five  days — i.e. by Thursday night — whether they intend to take up their seat in the Riigikogu or will instead remain at their current position.

Under the Status of Members of the Riigikogu Act, offices and duties incompatible with that of MP are those which are in conflict with the principle of separation of powers or which may otherwise lead to a conflict of interests in an MP's activities.

This means that MPs are prohibited during their mandate to work in civil service, including for other states, EU institutions or authorities or for international organizations.

An MP likewise cannot concurrently serve as MEP, practice as an advocate, notary, enforcement agent or sworn translator, or serve as a chair or member of the management board of a partially state-owned company or state-founded foundation.

MEPs not returning to Tallinn

Of seven MEPs currently representing Estonia in the European Parliament, six ran for election to the Riigikogu this spring — Urmas Paet (Reform), Yana Toom (Center), Jaak Madison (EKRE), Marina Kaljurand (SDE), Riho Terras (Isamaa) and Sven Mikser (SDE); only Andrus Ansip (Reform) declined to run this year.

Of the six that did run, only Mikser did not get elected.

Regardless, all five Estonian MEPs to get elected have already confirmed they will remain in Strasbourg and Brussels, and will pass their seats on to alternate members.

According to the list of alternates confirmed by the VVK, Paet's alternate is Eero Merilind, Toom's alternate is Aleksei Jevgrafov, Madison's is Kalle Grünthal, Kaljurand's is Tiit Maran and Terras' is Mart Maastik.

Those slated to take up seats in lieu of the first four of these MEPs are included in the list of elected candidates' alternates, meaning they had run for election themselves in the same electoral district as the politician they will be substituting.

Registered as alternate members in an electoral district are unelected candidates who still earned at least 10 percent of their district's simple quota.

Isamaa had no such candidates in Electoral District 2 (Tallinn's Kesklinn, Pirita and Lasnamäe districts), where Terras ran for election. As a result, the Isamaa MEP's seat will instead go to Maastik, who was the candidate topping the party's nationwide list of alternates.

In accordance with the Riigikogu Election Act, unelected candidates for whom the number of votes cast equals at least 5 percent of the electoral district's simple quota are registered as alternate members for candidates elected on the basis of compensation mandates in the order specified on the relevant political party's national candidate list; the remaining unelected candidates of the same political party are registered thereafter in the order of the percentage of votes received calculated based on the electoral district's simple quota.

Should two candidates have earned an equal percentage of votes, the candidate ranked higher on their party's national candidate list will be positioned ahead on the list of alternates as well.

Local government leaders still undecided

Of local government leaders elected to the Riigikogu this spring, Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) has already confirmed he will not be taking up his seat, which will instead go to Kersti Sarapuu, the top-ranking alternate member on the Center Party's nationwide list. Party mates Vladimir Svet, Aleksandr Tšaplõgin, Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski and Tõnis Mölder were all elected in Electoral District 2 as well, however the party does not have any alternate members in the district.

Deputy mayors Vadim Belobrovtsev and Vladimir Svet, both likewise in Center, have not yet announced whether they'll take up their seats as MPs.

Also likely to remain at his current post is Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform), who would then pass on his seat to the party's top-ranking alternate in Electoral District 10 ( Tartu) — Margit Sutrop.

Meanwhile, Võru Mayor Anti Allas (SDE) has announced that he will be taking up his seat in the Riigikogu next week, and that Võru City Council will have to find the Southeastern Estonian city a new mayor.

Ministers leaving government briefly need subs

For a brief period, alternate members will also need to be subbed in for those outgoing ministers in Kaja Kallas' second cabinet who were elected to the Riigikogu and likely won't be tapped as ministers in the incoming new government.

Among these are Isamaa ministers Urmas Reinsalu, Tõnis Lukas and Riina Solman, whose alternates will only sit in the Riigikogu for so long as the Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition currently in the process of being formed takes office and they are released from their positions as minister.

According to the party's nationwide list of alternates, top ranked after Mart Maastik are Lea Danilson-Järg, Kristjan Järvan and Raivo Aeg.

Likewise requiring alternates will be Reform's Kaja Kallas, Hanno Pevkur, Urmas Kruuse, Signe Riisalo and Annely Akkermann as well as Social Democrats Riina Sikkut, Madis Kallas and Lauri Läänemets.

It is currently yet unknown who of these beyond Kallas may continue as a member of the prime minister's cabinet and who will serve in the Riigikogu instead.

Likewise yet unknown is who among politicians elected to the Riigikogu will be tapped as ministers for Kallas' third cabinet and for whom alternates will have to be found as well.

It has not yet been announced when the new government is scheduled to take office.

President Alar Karis convened the XV Riigikogu for next Monday, April 10.

The State Electoral Office (riigi valimisteenistus, RVT) told ERR around midday on Monday that to date, they had only received three resignations as MP from serving MEPs.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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