Proposal to switch to Estonian-only education rejected by one vote

MP Jürgen Ligi (Reform) speaking before the Riigikogu.
MP Jürgen Ligi (Reform) speaking before the Riigikogu. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Riigikogu on Tuesday rejected a draft resolution submitted by the parliamentary group of the opposition Reform Party according to which the Riigikogu would have tasked the Estonian government with drawing up plans for a transition to the provision of education in the Estonian language exclusively.

The Riigikogu's draft resolution, titled "A proposal to the Government of the Republic for making kindergarten and basic school education uniform and Estonian-language received 50 votes in favour and two against, with two abstentions, in its first reading, due to which it was dropped from the agenda. Another 15 MPs did not vote on the resolution.

"This is evidently the most important reform on the agenda in terms of societal change, which was just foiled," Reform Party parliamentary group chairman Jürgen Ligi said following the vote, in which 51 votes in favour were required.

Ligi specifically accused the coalition Social Democratic Party (SDE), whose chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski had allegedly expressed support for the idea, of seeing to it that the one necessary vote would remain missing.

"After the [2019 Riigikogu] elections, we will definitely come out with the same issue again," Ligi told ETV newscast Aktuaalne kaamera. "But it would have been so simple to keep this from becoming an elections issue."

Of Centre MPs, Oudekki Loone and Mihhail Stalnuhhin voted against the resolution; SDE MPs Hannes Hanso and Hardi Volmer, meanwhile, abstained. MPs not to cast a vote included Centre MPs Enn Eesmaa, Helmut Hallemaa, Valeri Korb, Heimar Lenk, Aadu Must, Anneli Ott, Toomas Paur, Kersti Sarapuu, Mart Sults, Tiit Terik, Marika Tuus-Laul, and Viktor Vassiljev, as well as Social Democrats Helmen Kütt, Jaanus Marrandi, and Barbi Pilvre.

The motion was backed by 28 Reform MPs, seven Pro Patria MPs, five Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MPs, five independent MPs, four Free Party MPs, and one Social Democrat. No Centre MPs backed the draft resolution.

The Riigikogu resolution would have tasked the executive branch with coming up with a comprehensive operational plan for a relevant political decision, including on cooperation with local governments.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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