Two chair bill will produce retarded policy
Former Chancellor of Justice takes a stand

Allar Jõks

PHOTO: Raigo Pajula

Tomorrow is second Riigikogu reading for draft act allowing parliament members to also sit on local councils. Former Chancellor of Justice Allar Jõks fought it back then and is fighting it now, claiming the descent of Riigikogu people upon councils is a sign of shortage of party cadres and will hinder development.

-What makes the two chair bill contrary to constitution?

Pursuant to commented version of the constitution, merging of mandates of Riigikogu and local councils contains conflict of interests and separation of personal power.

Supreme Court has explained that when the possibility to represent local community interests will be linked to pan-Estonian party decisions, representation of local interests may be endangered.  

When state and local interests conflict, council member must retain ability to decide local issues independently of the state, in the interests of his community.

-The law is being justified by need to provide parliament members a better understanding of local life. Sounds grand, but is law amendment and friction with constitution really the only option?  

People need to meet with voters after elections also.

-They are also justifying that after the law is passed, the decoy ducks will disappear and that in Finland it is allowed to sit on two chairs.

I do like the ease with which they use the Finnish examples regarding combining the council member and parliamentarian. At that, they forget that we are not living according to Finnish constitution, and secondly, when copying legal solutions we will have to adopt the values system too.

-You are linked to the topic since 2005 as Chancellor of Justice. What urges you to keep on fighting as private person, and stand against the law?

I did not leave my principles at the office as I left. I hurts to see local power hijacked.

-Hearing the steadfastness and, at times, haughtiness of power parties on the subject, don’t you feel the fight is hopeless?

As Chancellor of Justice, I did not succeed to strengthen control over financing of political parties. In 2008, even the Supreme Court considered the situation ideal.

It was only in 2012, with the Silvergate and the civil society pressure it triggered via people’s assembly that the law was complemented. Remember the movement «Enough of Lying Politics»? For the first time, people in Estonia came out on the streets out of concern for quality of democracy.

I believe in media and public’s ability to affect policy. As happened with the double-the-fines bill after criticism by Postimees.

-Why to the power parties actually need the bill?  

In order to compensate for what they could not establish by the ban on election coalitions at local elections: to increase their governing presence.  

-Thinking of democracy and community life: is this amendment dangerous?

The quality of Estonian power is hampered by the closed political system. The descent of Riigikogu members upon councils shows the lack of party cadres and boosts retarded policy. Continuing like this, we will not see fresh decision makers in Toompea.

Also, it is a sign of lack of trust. The parties do not trust the voters that these should elect the less-known candidates in the party. Also, party leaders do not trust local candidates belonging to their parties.

To say nothing about political doping. By Riigikogu members participating in local elections, use of public money in election campaigns will become the rule. After that, misuse of taxpayer money would no n characterise only the election in Tallinn.

-Eight years ago in Postimees, you asked with the two-chair-law in mind, to whom belongs Estonian state. You had no clear answer back then. Do you know it now?

Yes. Estonian state belongs to those who dare to come to the streets, if needed, to defend democracy.

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