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Isamaa, Center MPs withdraw some Riigikogu filibustering interpellations

Helir-Valdor Seeder at the Riigikogu.
Helir-Valdor Seeder at the Riigikogu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

MPs from the opposition Isamaa and Center parties have withdrawn some interpellations including those expressly intended as filibustering measures.

The Riigikogu returned to work at the start of this week, after the Christmas and New Year break.

Isamaa chief whip Helir-Valdor Seeder (pictured) said that the new year has so far started with normal work at the Riigikogu, with no party resorting to the filibustering of the kind that helped grind the autumn session practically to a halt.

The party has also withdrawn some of its tabled interpellations including those intended as a filibuster, some of them dating back to last spring.

However, hopes that this spells a burying of the parliamentary hatchet should not be built up, given Seeder's statement that: "We are retracting these because the Riigikogu's board is not complying with the Home and Work Order Act."

The Riigikogu board consists of Speaker Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200) and his two deputies, Toomas Kivimägi (Reform) and Jüri Ratas (Center), though elections to the new board are due in March.

"The board has not put interpellations inquiries on the agenda in a timely manner, as required by law, which means that their content is largely outdated," Seeder went on.

While much of the autumn filibuster was spearheaded by the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and matched by the Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition's tying of bills to motions of no confidence in itself, both Isamaa and the Center Party had also taken part in obstruction tactics, starting almost as soon as the current coalition entered office in late April.

Center deputy whip Andrei Korobeinik said that his party, too, had withdrawn some interpellations it had put forward.

These were, however, due to their duplicating other interpellations also.

"First, we had already answered these in one way or another. And second, they were indeed designed to obstruct the Riigikogu's autumn functioning," Korobeinik went on.

The more substantive interpellations remain in place, he said, with many more to come ("thousands … in the near future," Korobeinik said).

Andrei Korobeinik. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

In this case if the party considers a matter urgent it will request a written response " So that we won't have to wait several months until the minister gets to it," the Center Party MP went on.

The situation with regard to Center's view of the caolition's economic position in particular, ie. that the party is not satisfied with this, remains the case, meaning the party is in no mind to make life easier for the coalition.

"We will definitely take an active part in law-making and discussions," he added.

One thing which has changed since autumn is the number of seats Center now has – seven, where it had 16 back in the summer. Most of those who have left joined another party, with the Social Democrats (getting four high-profile former Center members) being the beneficiary.

In any case, scope for filibustering, Korobeinik said, is more limited as the coalition does not take into consideration bills which have large numbers of amendments.

"Most likely, sooner or later, a court decision is coming on this. Until that point, there is no point in wasting resources on it," said Korobeinik said.

Korobeinik also found that the deadlock could finally be broken with the resignation of Kaja Kallas as prime minister, but until that time "we don't see work in the Riigikogu going much more smoothly."

The MP added that EKRE in particular is not in a mood for making many compromises.

Helir-Valdor Seeder also said that repsonses from the coalition ahave not been forthcoming, and that the Riigikogu board puts things on the agenda "selectively."

At the same time, the Isamaa chief whip said that after communicating with the board, the latter had stated that they will indeed start to implement the Home and Work Order Act's (Estonian: Riigikogu Kodu- ja töökorra seadus) provisions, and start to put more items on the parliamentary agenda.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

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