The Riigikogu on Thursday completed the first reading of a bill of legislative amendments that would forbid anyone convicted of a criminal offense from running in Estonia's general elections, municipal elections and European Parliament elections.
According to existing law, people who have been found guilty and are serving an actual prison sentence cannot run in the aforementioned elections. Conditional sentences and prior convictions do not, however, hinder an individual from running in elections, spokespeople for the Riigikogu said.
The bill submitted by the Reform Party parliamentary group would forbid anyone convicted of a crime or with a valid sentence for a professional offense from running in elections. In the explanatory letter accompanying the bill, the authors of the legislation said that such a candidacy ban would help curb and prevent corruption.
Speaking on behalf of the initiators of the bill, MP Kalle Laanet (Reform) said that many officials working in local governments as well as members of municipal councils have had to appear before the court to explain their actions.
"In order to minimize this happening and also to help everything look clean for the public, we have proposed that people who have been convicted of an office-related crime by a court of law and whose punishment has not expired has no right to run for a seat on a local government council, in the Riigikogu or in the European Parliament," said Laanet.
Speaking on behalf of the leading committee, MP Arto Aas (Reform) said that this kind of restriction on running in elections can be imposed only in strong democracies, as in non-democratic states courts would start to hand down guilty verdicts to politicians under suspicious circumstances.
Editor: Aili Vahtla