Editorial: taking the state by the horns

Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: Toomas Huik / Postimees

Yesterday, Estonian Cooperation Assembly revealed its ideas on reforming the state. A weighty event. Why?

As we know, ECA is a non-governmental organisations cooperation network called into being by the President – a body with a definite say in the society. The more so that, next to «salary poverty» and the tax proposals springing out of that, «state reform» has emerged as a keyword in the political debate this fall. And for good reasons – a couple of months to go to the general elections, it’s wisdom to discuss about the kind of a state we want to and are able to keep. Good to have non-party bodies and interested citizens do a part of the brainstorming – the discussion the broader-based and directly democratic.

With a debate of such calibre, the potential for generalisation rises above arguing over just some standalone stuff. No state reform in Estonia with a couple of cosmetic touches... Meanwhile, let’s not underestimate the importance of details, as, according to a well-worn saying that’s where the devil likes to hide.

Taking a closer look at the proposals set before us, one cannot but agree with the scarlet thread that runs thru it all: let’s cut the nonsense. Sure, no panacea here to bravely split state activities into two. Even so, the trend towards producing less indicators, reporting, all sorts of meta-level red tape – sounds good.

Let’s deal with what’s vital – what directly relates to wellbeing of the citizens. Thereby, we shake the expensive pseudo-activities as often less is more. That also with regulations and laws – no need to stipulate and check every event in lives of Estonians with dozens of norms.

And should the state reform proposals boil down to the need of a decent diet to the snowballing thicket of rules and the state apparatus ever enveloping itself in opaque foundations and other busybodies – the debate will have been a time well spent.   

Meanwhile, the assembly did toss a thought rather fantastic – as regarding administration of the Riigikogu. The idea is to make the parliament non-professional, to convene much more rarely than it currently does. Alas, one is reminded of a certain supreme council some time ago which came together on the occasional scarce occasion raising their hands as one as a nod to things already approved elsewhere (in the Party and the Presidium). Undeniably, parliamentary politics often come across as dirty and a bother. Nevertheless, in a Western type democracy, we will hardly manage replacing it with something smashingly novel.