Riigikogu reluctant to alter spouse of president benefits

Estonia's President with new wife amid South-Eastern locals in national costumes.

PHOTO: Pm

Members of parliament are shying away from altering arrangement of benefits for spouse of the President. Many think that touching the issue they would delve too deep into the President's private life.  

Last week, the Riigikogu accepted to proceed bill presented by EKRE regarding amendments to law of benefits related to office of the President whereby the order of representation allowance for spouse of President would be altered so as when the term expires, the representation benefits will be in proportion the number of days they were married during the term in office.  

The Centre faction discussed the issue at the very start of the year. «We concluded that, currently, there are issue a lot more important regarding the president than the benefits of his spouse,» said the faction head Kadri Simson. «Like the order how the President is elected – we support direct elections – or what to do that Estonia could elect a President who the people wants.»

«We did not discuss the personal problem of President Ilves; however, we do hope the private life of the next President will not draw that much attention,» she added. «But we do support that the bill initiated by the opposition be not voted down with no substantial discussion. The topic needs honest exchange of views.»

IRL faction head Priit Sibul said they have not had time to discuss the issue. «On the one hand, these are personal and unpleasant issues, but on the other hand as life plays them into our hands we will need to deal with them,» noted Mr Sibul.

«I am not sure if the institution of the spouse of the President ought to be in the law at all,» he said regarding his own opinion. «Perhaps, an individual running for President should consider that his salary must cover the maintenance of the spouse,» he said.

As for Reform and Soc Dems representatives, both think the EKRE bill is populist.

Reform faction head Valdo Randpere said the faction is yet to discuss the issue. «I may say I personally do not support the bill. This is such a trivial issue, with which EKRE simply wants to whip up some foam; it lack essential meaning. To alter the law because of one person...» he said.

«Now there are lots of people who say they will not attend the President’s reception [at Anniversary of the Republic – edit] for moral considerations, It’s especially fun to hear this from people who have divorced marriages, that now they have developed some moral considerations – give me a break! I think this is poking one’s nose into private life of the President,» said Mr Randpere.

Soc Dems faction head Andres Anvelt said to him the bill felt like populism which would alter nothing. «I do not see a need for the change, but, true, I have not seen the definite bill. This feels like a typical EKRE move – reacting with a bill, this is populist,» he said.

As noted by Mr Anvelt, even if the bill would be turned into law, it would not touch this President but the next. «I do not think it to be the usual for presidents that spouses change. We must not overreact. The more so that after the term expires, the President will be fulfilling the duties of the ex-President which also lays obligations on the shoulders of Ieva Ilves wherefore the state has obligations before her.»

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