The disparate sizes of Estonian electorates are widely acknowledged, but nothing has been done to resolve the issue. It is time to attempt again.
Lääne-Viru County is allotted five seats, while Harju and Rapla County is allotted 16 seats, so the weight of each vote is significantly different and the situation is unequal. And this disparity is growing.
The Estonian National Electoral Committee's initiative to change the status quo has clashed with the diverse interests of political parties and the draft has not been approved by the Constitutional Committee.
The Electoral Commission has reexamined the issue now that changing constituencies is mentioned in the coalition agreement and has instructed the election service to contact the University of Tartu to commission an analysis of constituency sizes or to call in an expert for further discussion.
It is important to politicians that their party suffers no losses due to the change. Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) said that there are essentially two objectives.
"One is that the weight of a vote in Riigikogu elections should not be skewed disproportionately across Estonia, meaning that the value of a mandate in various constituencies should be comparable. Second, proportionality is a distinguishing feature of the Estonian electoral system, so this amendment must preserve the model that enables many parties to be represented in the Riigikogu. The smaller the constituencies, the fewer parties there are in the legislature," Ossinovski explained.
Jaak Aab (Center) said that the previous Riigikogu had come to the conclusion that at least the most egregious inequalities should be eliminated.
"It is not very complicated: the number of mandates in Ida-Viru and Lääne-Viru counties has been gradually decreasing, so they could be combined into a single constituency. That would be the fastest solution," he said.
Erki Keldo (Reform) said that the deadline for amendments should be a year before the next parliamentary elections.
"Knowing the new system a year before the next parliamentary elections is good practice. This is the safety net," he said.
Editor: Marko Tooming, Kristina Kersa