Is the Estonian Legal System an Obstacle to Developing Civil Society?
One may argue that civil society is best viewed as the process that moves society towards consensus in how to face the future.
Implicit in this is a strong connection between ordinary people and the decision-makers making governmental policy. At present this connection is weak in Estonia. To develop such a connection, NGO’s should be prepared to work at the community level to assist people in developing and expressing their views. But it also requires that policy makers take these views into account. Here, transition issues in the development of the legal institutions may cause problems. At present, Estonian legislative process is relatively closed to the public. Equally important, there is confusion over the role of law and lawyers in public policy development. Is law the “master” or “servant”? The conclusion suggests a need for a second type of NGO to help insure that Estonian law does not form a barrier to development of civil society. The Estonian Law Centre could be this NGO.