The members of the new Riigikogu, who gathered for the opening session on Monday, have elected Eesti 200 leader Lauri Hussar as speaker. Hussar won 59 votes, with EKRE leader Martin Helme, who stood against him, receiving 20. The role of the Riigikogu's second deputy speaker has gone to Center Party leader Jüri Ratas.
Marek Reinaas, the future chair of Eesti 200's parliamentary group, nominated his own party's leader Lauri Hussar for the position of Riigikogu Speaker.
Henn Põlluaas, representing the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) nominated Martin Helme for the role.
The new coalition had agreed that Lauri Hussar would be elected as Riigikogu speaker. However, after the nominations were presented, Helme objected to Hussar's nomination. Oliver Kask, chair of the National Electoral Committee (VVK), who was also chairing the Riigikogu's opening session opted to take a brief break in proceedings.
EKRE MP Henn Põlluaas had also lodged a written complaint against Hussar's nomination.
Helme contended, that Marek Reinaas had put forward Hussar's nomination on behalf of the Eesti 200 parliamentary group. However, nominations for the position of Riigikogu speaker must made by Riigikogu MPs, not parliamentary groups.
After the interlude, Kask said that both objections, from Helme and Põlluaas, would be dismissed.
The VVK Chair pointed out, that in his written nomination, Reinaas had in fact put forward Hussar's candidacy on behalf of himself, rather than the parliamentary group.
After the election of the Riigikogu speaker, EKRE MP Kalle Grünthal then lodged a further complaint, with the aim of having the result annulled.
Grünthal provided the same reasoning as Helme had done before the vote. According to Grünthal, Oliver Kask was wrong to accept the written document submitted by Reinaas as the correct one, as the minutes of Riigikogu sittings are also written documents.
Kask said, that the VVK had examined Grünthal's complaint and also decided to reject it. He added, that the EKRE MP now has three days to appeal the decision at the Estonian Supreme Court.
The Riigikogu was also tasked with electing both a first and a second deputy speaker. Toomas Kivimägi of the Reform Party was voted in as first deputy speaker, with 56 votes. Center Party leader Jüri Ratas won 27 votes to land the position of second deputy speaker.
Traditionally, the second deputy speaker role is reserved for a member of the largest opposition party, which is currently EKRE. However, EKRE leader Martin Helme missed out on the position, after receiving only 17 votes.
Priit Sibul, who will be a member of Isamaa's parliamentary group, said that his party had decided to support Jüri Ratas for the second deputy speaker role, rather than EKRE's Martin Helme.
"We prefer to support Jüri Ratas, who has more long-term experience," Sibul said.
Speaking at a press conference following the new Riigikogu's first sitting, Lauri Hussar said he was pleased with the new board.
"From tomorrow, we will start working actively so that the new government can take office and the both the Riigikogu and the government can get on with the task of running Estonia," said Hussar.
"There is a lot of work ahead of us, we have to make big decisions concerning Estonia's development and Estonia's public finances. There are also big questions on the table regarding values. The spring session and the ones after that will certainly be very busy. I am delighted, that the Riigikogu board is strong and professional and the XV Riigikogu is certainly in good hands," he said.
Toomas Kivimägi said that, that as first deputy speaker of, he wants to increase the efficiency of the Riigikogu's work. "Democracy takes time, and you have to get used to it, but time also must not be wasted. It seems to me, that during the last legislature, perhaps a little bit of time was wasted," he said, adding that he expected there to meaningful cooperation between the political groups in the Riigikogu.
Kivimägi added, that all Riigikogu members have an equal mandate and that he expects them to show respect for each other.
Jüri Ratas agreed with the other members of the new executive board, but added that there is more to the role than simply chairing Riigikogu sittings. "The Riigikogu board upholds the fee mandate principles, that Riigikogu members are responsible for the whole of Estonia and its people," said Ratas.
"This is what I would like to do as deputy speaker. Not only be in Tallinn and in the Riigikogu, but also to go around Estonia. This is also an important (part of the) job for a member of the Riigikogu, to hear direct input about what is expected from the society," he added.
Editor: Michael Cole