SDE MP on Riigikogu stalemate: Thoughts may turn to a 'by force' solution

Jevgeni Ossinovski.
Jevgeni Ossinovski. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A lasting solution should be found to address the issue of obstruction tactics at the Riigikogu, so as to prevent this happening for an indefinite time-frame, Social Democratic Party (SDE) MP and the party's chief whip at the Riigikogu, Jevgeni Ossinovski, says.

Failure to do so may lead to thoughts entering minds of the deadlock being broken via "force," Ossinovski added.

Ossinovski told ERR on Thursday that, if the opposition continues to hinder the legislature's functioning over a period of months, this would run counter to the spirit of the constitution and would lead to thoughts arising of terminating the deadlock by force.

Ossinovski said: "The opposition has been able to fin a loophole in the rules of procedure, one which can be pressed into action at any moment if the opposition does not like a government initiative," referring to a raft of legislative amendments which would hike VAT and income tax, and cut family benefits.

"Essentially, at any subsequent moment, it would then be viable to trigger a situation which would lead to parliament being dissolved, due to amendment proposals and queries being presented for months. This is not acceptable, and does not work in the context of ​​the constitution," Ossinovski, a former health minister, went on.

"Then, if np other option arises, thoughts will start moving in the direction of ending this thing via coercion," he added.

As to ERR interviewer's clarifying question on what he meant by "termination by force," Ossinovski replied that while he personally would not support such a move, there is a precedent for it.

"For instance, we had a procedure at the committee two years ago (in fact, two years ago, the Reform-Center coalition had been in office several months-ed.) )when the Center-EKRE-Isamaa (ie. the current opposition-ed.) coalition knowingly violated the rules of procedure of the Riigikogu by tying amendments into a few bundles, which was clearly a violation of law but it was done completely poker faced. I do not support that type of action."

"The Riigikogu should to be able to work both on the basis of the provisions and the ideas of ​​the Riigikogu work procedures and rules, and I hope that we will be able to do so," he went on.

This did not mean there should be no scope for filibustering at the Riigikogu at all; this is one way that the opposition can drawn attention to its disapproval of any steps the government might make which are not amenable to the opposition, Ossinovski went on.

This should not amount to gridlock in parliament for months, or weeks or even days, he added.

"At the moment, the ball is definitely in the opposition parties' court. We are ready to essentially discuss these bills, but we must also have an understanding that, from the other side, with this kind of total parliamentary work there should be no scope for indefinite downtime."

Opposition party leader Martin Helme (EKRE) has said that his party has no intention of ending the filibuster, meaning that it will continue through to March 2024, he says, by which time the deadline for adopting the state budget for that year – usually adopted at the end of the preceding year – arrives.

Should this happen, it would trigger extraordinary elections, a situation never seen in Estonia since its independence was restored in 1991.

Ossinovski said that the three coalition partners, however, have the resilience to weather this storm, referring to the opposition's recent activities as "fruitless" and "time-wasting."


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Madis Hindre

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