Hussar: I'm optimistic Riigikogu can resolve stalemate in-house

President of the Riigikogu Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200).
President of the Riigikogu Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

While Isamaa whip Helir-Valdor Seeder believes that the stalemate to crop up in the Riigikogu this spring can't be resolved in the Riigikogu, President of the Riigikogu Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200) believes it's possible to achieve an in-house solution to the situation in which the opposition has obstructed the work of the Riigikogu with numerous interpellations and bills.

"Personally, I believe it's possible to resolve this stalemate within the Riigikogu, and the Riigikogu's opposition parties certainly have the opportunity to withdraw the bills and interpellations submitted to Riigikogu proceedings for obstructive purposes in order to ensure that parliament can continue its work in the fall," Hussar told ERR on Tuesday.

He added that this will surely protect the opposition's rights as well, because if there are excessive numbers of bills and interpellations in Riigikogu proceedings, then that limits the opposition's own rights to hold broader debate on issues of importance.

"At some point this excessive burden may start affecting the opposition's own rights as well, so that's certainly also a matter that the opposition must very seriously consider in all of this obstructive activity," he said.

The speaker noted that the desire to seek compromise was evident in letters sent to the Board of the Riigikogu by parliamentary groups. The only exception to this, he acknowledged, was the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), who gave a clear no.

"The letters also highlight that they want greater debate on matters of substance, but in my opinion we shouldn't really weigh ensuring the functioning of parliament as an institution against disputes over political substance; that has never provided a good solution," he said. "And as the Supreme Court's June ruling said, obstruction must be tolerated to a certain extent, but it should not be used to paralyze the work of a constitutional institution."

Hussar added that in terms of the opposition, a significantly clearer indication of pulling back from EKRE policy for Isamaa and the Center Party would be if the latter two were to withdraw their own bills and interpellations from proceedings and pick up in the fall again with fresh and substantive debate reflecting current politics.

"But in my opinion, the June Supreme Court decision has also provided us with a very clear roadmap: the decision reiterates the parliament's right to self-administration, which then provides the legislature relatively broad discretion in matters concerning its own activities," he stressed.

One possible solution Hussar sees would be convening the Riigikogu's Council of Elders to discuss the matter once again, but he also won't rule out political party chairs convening in the near future to discuss the possibility of finding a solution to the stalemate.

"But if the political demands are too great, then it definitely won't be possible to find that compromise," he acknowledged, "Because there have been demands in these letters here that are directly related to already adopted decisions that most certainly will not be reconsidered."

He emphasized that the compromise can proactively concern proceedings for the next issues to be discussed at the fall session of the Riigikogu.

"There are a lot of bills, and certainly one of the most important ones is the 2024 state budget," Hussar noted.

Another option being explored is convening extraordinary sittings.

"The majority of parliamentary parties expressed their willingness to participate in extraordinary sittings," the Riigikogu speaker said. "Only EKRE said in their letter that they don't deem extraordinary sittings necessary; the other parties found that they're willing to contribute to making these extraordinary sittings taking place."

He noted that holding an extraordinary sitting requires the presence of half of the Riigikogu plenary's 101 MPs.

The Board of the Riigikogu is slated to convene on August 8 to discuss the current stalemate.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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