Riigikogu likely to continue working after Midsummer Day

Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu.
Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The spring session of the Riigikogu is set to end on June 15, and because the parliament will very likely fail to pass the coalition's bills by then, an extraordinary session will be convened for after Midsummer holidays.

Still to be passed are four tax amendments, the family benefits cut, Family Act amendments (legalizing same-sex marriage) and the expansion of the Nursipalu Training Grounds.

Riigikogu Vice President Toomas Kivimägi (Reform) said that the parliament's agenda is weekly, meaning that it is not clear when the bills will land on the floor. "We have a plan, but it could change depending on progress made in committees," he said.

The bill to expand the Nursipalu Training Area in Võru County in expedited procedure will be coming up for its second reading Wednesday. Kivimägi said that the bill has seen no attempts at obstruction [from the opposition] and its reading is progressing normally.

But there are several other bills to be passed to which a host of amendment proposals have been made. "We will not get through them with what's left of the [spring] session. The two options we have is to hold additional sittings or indeed have an extraordinary session," the deputy speaker remarked.

It is likely that the Riigikogu will convene for an extraordinary session after the Midsummer holidays.

"It all depends on how many amendment proposals the opposition will file, whether we will be forced to tie them to a confidence vote or not. It is not our purpose, but if the number or nature of amendment proposals clearly hints at filibustering, I believe there is enough reason to tie individual bills to a vote of confidence in the government," Kivimägi said.

The Riigikogu vice president added that additional sittings and filibustering constitute expenses as additional sittings cost €550 per hour.

Opposition lacking a clear plan

Opposition Center Party whip Tanel Kiik said that how much progress the coalition can make depends on the coalition itself. "If the government is willing to compromise, adjust its original plans, progress can be swift in the parliament. But if they want to realize their tax [hike] plans and slash family benefits come hell or high water, then the opposition's reaction will be stronger," Kiik promised.

Kiik said that while Center is willing to continue working after Midsummer's, the government likely wants to push its bills through before the holidays.

The MP said that it is unrealistic to analyze all amendment proposals before then. "This volume cannot be processed [in the time left] in a way that ensured quality and respects the parliament," he said.

Tanel Kiik said that the coalition's tax changes need thorough review and are not sensible during a recession. "The smart thing to do would be to pull the tax changes and return with a more integral and thought-out tax package in the fall."

The opposition does not have a coordinated tactic for countering the government's bills. "Every party group will pick its own pattern of action. The Center Party has opted for practicable amendment proposals," Kiik said.

It is possible to convene the Riigikogu after the end of the regular session following a proposal by at least 21 MPs or the government. Additional sittings and sessions need to be attended by at least 51 MPs.

The Riigikogu will convene for its regular fall session on September 11.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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