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Estonian president: Governance must be subject to parliamentary control

In a powerful address during the inaugural session of the autumnal Riigikogu, Estonian President Alar Karis emphasized the critical role of parliamentary control in governance. He highlighted the necessity for governing political parties to implement their programs within the bounds of the rule of law.

Karis referred to insights from Juri Kaljuvee, an expert in the Constitutional Assembly, who argued that Estonia’s governance had progressively sought power instead of a powerful presidency. The Estonian government, according to Kaljuvee, had expanded its authority, effectively becoming the policymaking body.

“I am guided by two fundamental principles: a functional state necessitates effective governance, and for this, the Government of the Republic requires sufficient freedom of action. However, governance must remain democratic, characterized by transparency, reason, and oversight by the parliament,” Karis affirmed.

He underlined that democracy should persist beyond achieving a majority in parliamentary elections, emphasizing that the implementation of political programs must align with the rule of law.

Karis acknowledged the inherent tension between these principles, exemplifying how Riigikogu’s investigative committee might obstruct the government. Yet, he advocated preserving the parliament’s investigatory capacity. He also highlighted the importance of a flexible budget, promoting efficient government functioning.

Reflecting on Estonia’s Constitution, Karis outlined key levers that protect the government’s ability to function effectively. One such lever involves linking a draft law to a vote of confidence, preventing undue obstruction while upholding the parliament’s role.

He urged for a careful balance, cautioning against exaggerated use of draft-law confidence linkage, which could undermine the spirit of the Constitution. Karis expressed his opinion that only draft laws vital to the government’s core program should be linked to votes of confidence.

Moreover, he stressed the need for the opposition to play a meaningful role, especially in preventing potential overreach by a government with a parliamentary majority.

Karis championed informed and critical citizenry as fundamental to a thriving democracy, highlighting the need for transparency in lawmaking. He emphasized that transparent legislative processes build citizen trust in the democratic system.

In conclusion, the president advocated for a respectful and open debate culture, condemning personal attacks and hate speech. He urged all stakeholders to uphold values that contribute to constructive dialogue and meaningful progress.

Source: BNS (Reproduction of BNS information without written consent is prohibited.)

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