The Terve Rahvas ("whole nation") foundation organized a protest outside the Riigikogu on Monday. The protesters demanded the reintroduction of the direct-democratic initiative as set out in the Estonian constitutions of both 1920 and 1933.
The organizers chose Mar. 12 for their protest because on that day in 1934, State Elder Konstantin Päts and former commander-in-chief of the Estonian army Johan Laidoner headed a coup d'état that signified the beginning of Estonia's period of authoritarian rule leading up to World War II.
With the coup, the Estonian people also lost the option to introduce new draft legislation via the instrument of a direct-democratic initiative, or to demand a referendum on existing laws.
According to the foundation's president, historian Jaak Valge, the reintroduction of the initiative is extremely important for the proper functioning of the Estonian people as the highest power in the state, as set out by the Constitution currently in effect.
Valge said that there is no reason why anyone should be afraid of greater voter participation. "Direct democracy as we understand it doesn't replace our representative democracy, but rather completes it," Valge said. "Intelligently set referendum thresholds would make accidental decisions and decisions only based on protest voting impossible."
Well-known faces among the protesters included members of the leadership of the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) as well as family values activist, Varro Vooglaid. But the base of the protest wasn't exclusively national-conservative, with e.g. Estonian MEP Indrek Tarand appearing as well.
Editor: Dario Cavegn