With 24 bills on Wednesday’s agenda, the Riigikogu is likely looking at a marathon sitting this week. The list includes several tax changes, including an advance income tax for banks and the controversial new tax on sugary drinks, but also the ratification of the Rail Baltic agreement and the so-called rideshare bill.
As ERR’s Aktuaalne kaamera newscast reported on Sunday evening, the opposition has harshly criticized the coalition’s decision to cram such a large number of bills into a single day. “This is a shameless approach. This shows that the Board of the Riigikogu’s time planning is inadequate. And it shows how the coalition sees the Riigikogu,” deputy chairman of the Free Party’s parliamentary group, Andres Ammas, said.
According to Ammas, without any attempts at dragging things out the debates will likely still last well into the early morning. The Reform Party’s Remo Holsmer agreed, saying that putting up as many bills left near to no time for debate.
“I think this tactic is rather cynical and simple,” Holsmer said, adding that the coalition was trying to avoid a proper debate by dropping all of the unpopular new taxes on parliament at once.
Member of the Center Party’s parliamentary group and deputy chairman of his party, Jaanus Karilaid, said that late sittings were part of the Riigikogu’s business as usual, and that several important matters could be discussed this way.
Karilaid said that it was in the interest of the coalition to hold its number of votes and to make sure that a sufficient number of MPs were present at the time the Riigikogu voted on a bill. “I think that this super-Wednesday is very much needed as a measure of the coalition’s discipline and health,” he added.
Both Holsmer and Ammas opined that Wednesday’s sitting would also shape parties’ tactics for the coming second reading of several important bills. “If it becomes apparent that the coalition doesn’t take the opposition into account at all, which will likely be the case, then in the second reading of those bills it may very well be necessary for the opposition to use all its available means,” Ammas said, hinting that the opposition may choose to filibuster future votes on some of the bills.
Editor: Dario Cavegn