Riigikogu deputy speaker Toomas Kivimägi (Reform) said, that the extraordinary session, which began on Monday, could last up to 80 hours. Tanel Kiik, leader of the Center Party's parliamentary group, was of the same opinion.
"We have also made some calculations. If you want to stretch it out and take the maximum [time], it is possible to make on bill last 10 to 11 hours. If we multiply that by the eight drafts, that is 80 hours, which is more than three days. It all depends on the opposition," Kivimägi told ERR.
Tanel Kiik, leader of the Center Party's parliamentary group, said it was unfortunate that the coalition had opted for a single, long extraordinary session. "The law would also have allowed for a more humane timetable, for example, 12-hour sessions from ten (o'clock) to ten (o'clock), three or four days in a row, until the agenda has been exhausted. This was not the route they took, but instead the way of exhaustion, exhausting both opposition and coalition MEPs," said Kiik.
According to Toomas Kivimägi, Kiik's proposal would simply have provided further opportunities for the opposition to continue with its obstruction tactics.
"The Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act stipulates for instance, that bills and motions can be handed over at the beginning of the session. If we were to do that separately every day, it is obvious that we would then spend an additional hour at the beginning of each day on procedural issues and the handing over of bills and motions, and then another hour at a separate board meeting. In that sense, we would again be losing time," said Kivimägi, adding that for that reason, it was decided to tackle all the bills in one, protracted session.
"We don't have any naive ideas that the coalition will suddenly change its mind. They have shown, with all their behavior over recent months, no signs of a change of heart, willingness to compromise, or a desire to negotiate," said Kiik.
"They want to get it done before the summer, so it will be easier in fall and winter. The hope is, that people will calm down in the summer and forget about all the tax increases and child benefit cuts that have been proposed here," he added.
Kiik added, that he believes the opposition will be doing meaningful work over the coming days. Most of the time will be spent asking questions of ministers, who are presenting bills, as well as making speeches, which each Riigikogu member is able to do for up to eight minutes per bill.
What makes the extraordinary session special is, that it requires at least 51 Riigikogu members to be present. This means that before each vote, some which also concern procedures as well as bills, opposition lawmakers will demand an attendance check. The coalition will therefore have to remain on its guard to ensure the session does not end abruptly.
However, procrastinating with speeches and questions also requires discipline from the opposition.
Kivimägi said, that the answering of questions and the processing of bills, which had been submitted by the opposition for filibustering purposes, would be delayed until fall. He also suggested, that they could be responded to in writing.
However, according to Tanel Kiik, the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act does not allow for questions to be responded to in writing.
Following a proposal by the government, Riigikogu Speaker Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200) convened an extraordinary session of the Riigikogu on Monday. The seven bills on the agenda are all tied to a vote of confidence in the government.
Editor: Michael Cole