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Prime minister: President taking opposition's side

Kaja Kallas and Alar Karis.
Kaja Kallas and Alar Karis. Source: Raigo Pajula/presidendi kantselei

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) believes President Alar Karis has taken the opposition's side by refusing to promulgate laws tied to confidence votes if they are not related to the state budget.

"The president has very clearly come out in support of the opposition here," Kallas told ERR on Thursday, adding the situation in the Riigikogu is not caused by the coalition.

"The work of the Riigikogu is being obstructed by the opposition, it is undermining the credibility of democracy, and it is not in anyone's interest, and it is in no way constitutional," she added.

On Thursday, Karis told ERR he does like it when laws are adopted by votes of confidence. When promulgating legislation, he will check if the bill is connected to the adoption of the budget and complies with the Constitution.

"It [being tied to a confidence vote] cannot be the only reason, with whether bills are tied to the state budget or whether they're unconstitutional serving as reasons," said Karis in response to ERR's question whether he will reject laws passed by the Riigikogu on the grounds that they are tied to a vote of confidence.

"Confidence binding is a statutory tool the government can use to end obstruction. We don't do it lightly, but we have to be able to govern, because the government is the executive and we have to have these levers," Kallas, a former lawyer, said.

"However, I hope that everyone will act in accordance with the Constitution. If the President rejects something, it must be justified by the Constitution," she added.

If the government ties a bill to a confidence vote it skips the committee stage and goes straight to the Riigikogu. Members may then debate the legislation and vote on it. If it is not passed, the government should resign.

Kallas also commented on the issue at the government's press conference.

"We're barking up the wrong tree. Confidence bindings are the consequence of the fact that the work of the parliament is paralyzed and the government must be able to make decisions. That is what this tool is for. There is no place in the constitution where the president can say you can bind these things and they can't be bound," said the prime minister.

Kallas emphasized that confidence votes are the solution to obstruction.

"The President can reject decisions that are not in line with the Constitution. This must be justified, specifically, by which provision of the Constitution we are going against," she said,

Kallas said at the government's weekly press conference on Thursday that the coalition will tie six more drafts related to the state budget to a vote of confidence. These are expected to go before the Riigikogu in the second week of December.

The Riigikogu adopted four laws by confidence vote last night. Discussions about three others were postponed.

EKRE has submitted thousands of amendments, which must each be processed, to the state budget and associated legislation. It hopes to prevent the passing of the budget which would lead to emergency elections.

While initially supported by opposition parties Isamaa and Center, both have said they no longer support the obstruction.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright

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