Thirty-hour overnight Riigikogu filibuster ran to Saturday evening

Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu.
Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

A marathon filibuster at the Riigikogu continued into the weekend, with the session finally ending at around 9.30 p.m. Saturday, some 30 hours after it had started, on the Friday afternoon.

The obstruction began on Monday, ostensibly the result of the opposition's, well, opposition to legislation which would cut family benefits and the manner in which this legislation was presented.

While the week's working agenda was never approved as a result of the delay tactics, some Saturday, the bill amending the family benefits regime in Estonia still had not reached the chamber for its first reading.

This despite late-night sessions during the week and the two off-schedule sessions on Friday and Saturday – the first of these days is usually reserved for the work of the European and foreign affairs committees.

Sunday at least is a day off, and parliament will reconvene at the Riigikogu's Great Hall on Monday at 3 p.m.

Mps from the three opposition parties, the Center Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, continued to present draft amendments, procedural questions and interpellations from Friday afternoon's session onward, with these totaling nearly 300, comparable with the total number already presented Monday to Thursday.

The Riigikogu's Council of Elders, composed of the speaker, his two deputies and the chief whips of all six represented parties, met several times to try to break the deadlock. Friday's meeting alone lasted five hours, one of its members, Deputy Speaker Jüri Ratas (Center), said, though this still made no progress at all.

Ratas and also Isamaa MP Urmas Reinsalu have said that if the government were to ditch the family benefits cut, the issue would be resolved – other legislative amendments proposed by the Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition would hike VAT and income tax by two percentage points each – but in any case the Riigikogu will reconvene on Monday afternoon.

The situation has also raised concerns in regard to the workings of democracy in Estonia, and the relationship between the executive and legislature – conversations which have been going on in many other countries also.

Both President Alar Karis and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) have called for a resolution to the stalemate, adding that only the Riigikogu itself can accomplish this.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

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