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MPs also sitting on local councils affect Riigikogu's work

According to Ammas, Toompea Castle gets very quiet after lunchtime on Thursday, as more than half of MPs hurry home to participate in council meetings.
According to Ammas, Toompea Castle gets very quiet after lunchtime on Thursday, as more than half of MPs hurry home to participate in council meetings. Source: (Riigikogu)

Andrus Ammas, MP for the Free Party, told ERR's Aktuaalne kaamera newscast on Thursday that the new arrangement according to which Riigikogu members can be members of local councils as well is affecting the national parliament's work.

According to Ammas, on Thursdays the Riigikogu now finishes early so that those members who also sit on local councils can make it to council meetings. While the affected MPs do admit that working like this is difficult, they still consider attending council meetings important, he said.

This is affecting the Riigikogu's work. Starting lunchtime on Thursdays the offices at Toompea Castle, the seat of the Riigikogu, are very quiet, Aktuaalne kaamera reported.

According to former minister of finance and Reform Party MP Aivar Sõerd, who is also a member of the municipal council in Viimsi, it is difficult to coordinate the two jobs, though he says he's lucky as Viimsi is very close to Tallinn.

Sõerd leads the Viimsi council's group on the budget and on development, and says that he wants to be able to participate there as well. The council meets every Tuesday, right after the weekly meeting of the Riigikogu's Financial Committee ends.

So far he has been able to make it from one meeting to the other, Sõerd said. "Though it can be done, it means additional work for Riigikogu members, they need to plan their time more carefully. And then of course it isn't just about attending meetings, you also have to go through the materials and prepare," he added.

Aadu Must, who chairs the Riigikogu's Cultural Affairs Committee, is also chairman of the Tartu city council. While Sõerd's drive is a mere 12 km, Must has to travel 185 km between Toompea Castle and Tartu.

He couldn't make it work every time, Must said. On the upside, the work on the municipal council and in the Riigikogu had a few things in common, problems were often similar, and the level of information of a Riigikogu member made working on the city council easier.

"But whenever someone asks me if I'm prepared to do this kind of work for years and years, I'm usually more careful and tell them that I'll keep an eye on things, and if I can't manage anymore, then of course I can't go on," Must said. In such a case, he would then have to decide between one of the two, 66-year-old Must said.

58 of the Riigikogu's 101 members also hold mandates on local councils across the country.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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