Legal scholar: I am not overly worried about recent events at the Riigikogu

Paloma Krõõt Tupay.
Paloma Krõõt Tupay. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The disruption that has been taking place at the Riigikogu, setting the opposition and the coalition at loggerheads and now in its second week, is partly the result of the Riigikogu never having had to deal with the issue of how to ensure working order over the years, legal scholar Paloma Krõõt Tupay told "Aktuaalne kaamera" Tuesday.

At the same time, it is not worth worrying unduly about what has transpired at the Riigikogu, Tupay added in an interview which follows in its entirety.

When will the limit of the obstruction of the Riigikogu's work be reached?

This is a matter for the Riigikogu itself, since it is a constitutional institution and therefore, on that basis, it has the right to organize its work according to its own discretion and decisions.

Have the Riigikogu chairs and those presiding over the sessions acted legally?

The Supreme Court has confirmed that obstruction can excessively hinder parliament's work. This is because, without a doubt, the Riigikogu's working capacity is a constitutional value. 

At the same time, this constitutional value also pertains to the rights of the opposition, i.e. the minority at the Riigikogu. So a certain balance must be found between those.

EKRE leader Martin Helme has said that the opposition has been behaving completely legally, but are we really entering an 'era of silence'?

I could honestly say that I wouldn't worry too much about what has been going on. We are perhaps too used to always criticizing the Riigikogu as being just a rubber stamp, where nothing happens. Now, for two weeks now something has indeed been happening, and everyone is feeling down. I think, in essence, that what is required here is to find ways of working at the Riigikogu whereby we can communicate with each other again, and consider how we ensure working order.

Naturally it is the task of the speaker and the Riigikogu board to create a situation where the Riigikogu can also function. At some point they have to ensure that. At the same time, such a restrictive decision could also limit the exercise of the free mandate of the minority [opposition]. Here, too, the Supreme Court has said that such restrictions must be contestable. So I think there's a balance to be found here too.

Those who voted for the tripartite coalition do not understand how that coalition is supposed to run the country if it is not permitted to do so.

How do I phrase this. I think the Riigikogu cannot be greater than the sum of its parts. We have voted for our representatives there, ourselves. At the same time, it has indeed been pointed out by legal scholars for a long time that the Riigikogu has actually done little on the question of how to ensure its working order, how to update the current working order. And now we are seeing that bearing fruit.

As a legal scholar, what would be the best advice on how to get your way without an MP having to bring out their worst and most embarrassingly shameful, human sides, at the Riigikogu chamber. How to enforce your wish in a way that doesn't make you appear weird?

Certainly via reason and negotiation. Indeed, we need to strike a balance. We have now a situation where the coalition is very large, but the opposition is very small (60 seats versus 41 seats-ed.). In fact, the rights of the opposition are protected very scantily in Estonia. So the opposition therefore sees it has little option except for a filibuster. We could consider how to better enforce more management on the one hand, and better rights of control on the other.

Paloma Krõõt Tupay was talking to Margus Saar.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

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