Isamaa leader: Opposition may take Riigikogu deadlock to Supreme Court

Helir-Valdor Seeder.
Helir-Valdor Seeder. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The three opposition parties, Center, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, are considering taking the deadlock at the Riigikogu, now in its second week, to the Supreme Court, Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder says.

Seeder made his remarks while appearing on Tuesday morning's edition of "Terevisioon", adding that a Reform Party plan to terminate the ongoing filibuster, which ostensibly relates to a planned cut in family benefits, by coercive means if necessary, would be an unprecedented move.

Also appearing on "Terevisioon" and speaking for the Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition was Marek Reinaas, Eesti 200's chief whip at the Riigikogu.

He, too, said it would be prudent to let the legal experts air their opinion.

Helir-Valdor Seeder said: "Nothing has been resolved by doing this. Ministers must come to answer all the submitted questions, draft amendments must be processed, which have been submitted concerning one [Riigikogu] composition, that is, for a period of four years."

The XV Riigikogu was elected to a four-year term on March 5.

"In using a cavalry charge approach, political confrontations will not be resolved," Seeder added, referring to Reform's call for resolving the matter via coercion.

Whether the opposition will go to the Supreme Court still needs to be analyzed, Seeder said, not least because it has not yet seen all analysis from the Riigikogu on the issue.

"We will consider and analyze things, but in any case we will continue to fight, to protect the views of our voters. If the coalition thinks that it is so easy to transform from the leader of the Riigikogu to the leader of some kind of steam roller, well this is actually not the case," the Isamaa leader went on.

Marek Reinaas said that the coalition parties, too, fight for their voters.

At the same time, "It might be wise to take this to the Supreme Court, to see what their opinion is," Reinaas added.

Marek Reinaas (Eesti 200). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Monday's events, which saw processing procedural questions take up two hours, demonstrated that there are no longer any rules of conduct at the Rigiikogu, while custom, too, has been broken, leading to a collapse of implementing parliamentary democracy, Isamaa leader Seeder added.

The opposition has not been steamrollered in this way for the 30 or more years since the Restoration of Estonian Independence, Seeder claimed.

In any case, it would not halt the tabling of amendment drafts and the other filibustering tactics, which began last Monday, May 8.

Marek Reinaas conceded that there had been talk in the coalition of ending the obstruction by force, albeit a constitutional force, referring to a section of the Constitution which states that if an unreasonable number of drafts and inquiries accumulate in the Riigikogu, the Board of the Riigikogu must act to allow substantive work to continue.

According to Reinaas, this is what happened on Monday.

The main issue was that the filibuster was applied against Riigikogu activity as a whole, rather than a specific bill or bills, Reinaas added.

Monday's Riigikogu session, which followed an off-schedule, 30-hour overnight session Friday to Saturday, began in a a now familiar routine of the opposition submitting procedural questions, a process which took two hours.

Riigikogu speaker Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200() then finished presenting procedural questions, referring to the corresponding constitutional right granted to him to do so.

Hussar also put this to a vote, with 53 MPs voting in favor of termination and 41 abstaining.

Marek Reinaas said in summary of Monday's events that: "The Riigikogu could not get to work, and I think that the framers of the law did not anticipate obstruction on this scale."

The opposition and the coalition might now come to an agreement and patch up holes in the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act, the main piece of legislation dealing with how the Riigikogu operates, Reinaas went on.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mirjam Mäekivi

Source: 'Terevisioon', interviewer: Juah Kilumets

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