Justice chancellor: Only a political agreement can solve Riigikogu impasse

Ülle Madise.
Ülle Madise. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise said on the "Otse uudistemajast" webcast that no democratic or human right can be misused to destroy the system when talking about recent filibustering in the Riigikogu. But she is also critical of the coalition's tactic of tying bills to a vote of confidence in the government even before they hit the floor, concluding that an agreement between the sides is the only way to overcome the deadlock.

Ülle Madise told host Anvar Samost that the current impasse can only be solved through an agreement between the opposing sides. "I believe that no final solution can be found without such an agreement, as it is naive to think that taking away one lever of obstruction leaves no others," she said.

She suggested that the sides should reach an agreement where governments will refrain from the temptation of pushing all of their major plans through parliament in the first 100 days, without much heed to analysis, while the opposition will refrain from completely halting the parliament's work or introducing harebrained bills just to disrupt proceedings, which has also been done in the past.

Madise said that opposition MPs are within their right to have the Supreme Court weigh whether changing the Riigikogu rules and procedures with the aim of overcoming obstruction efforts is constitutional.

She suggested that the coalition tying different amendments together and to a vote of confidence in the government might be unconstitutional, and that it would be good to have a relevant decision from the Supreme Court.

Asked whether MPs have the constitutional right to keep introducing interpellations and bills indefinitely, Madise said that it probably cannot be used indefinitely. "There is a very important principle in Article 17 of the Convention on Human Rights, for example, according to which no democratic right or human right can be misused in order to destroy the system," she said.

Madise explained that while this means that MPs cannot be robbed of their right to ask questions, introduce bills or proposals to amend, also by taking breaks in between every action, it also means these rights cannot be taken advantage of for the purpose of completely paralyzing parliamentary debate.

"And that is why I say that groups in the parliament will need to agree on the political culture used to find a solution, and based on which everyone could proceed in the future," she said.

Asked whether Estonia finds itself in a parliamentary crisis or one of democracy, Madise said no. She said that MPs who feel their rights have been violated are free to turn to the Supreme Court

Madise also addressed the issue of coalitions implementing significant tax reforms without sufficient analysis or discussion. She argued that coalition agreements should not be overly detailed or binding, as laws may need to be modified during the legislative process. She emphasized the importance of consensus and the need to avoid a polarized two-party system.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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