No. 14




Elections as a judgement on the quality of government

18 December 2006


RiTo No. 14, 2006

  • Allar Jõks

    Advisor under a UN mandate to the office of Ombudsman of Georgia

In election season, today’s Estonian political elite sees electoral principles as being driven primarily by the letter of the law.

In the dash toward elections, there is an attempt made to keep things legitimate, and thus a balancing act takes place on a legal razor’s edge while fair play and good practice often fall by the wayside. Why do we even need to talk about honest elections? Because honesty engenders trust, and the trustworthiness of government institutions is the very thing that Estonia has a shortage of. The number of people who do not support any party is constantly on the increase. Only 27% of eligible voters took part in the last elections to European Parliament, and in local elections Estonia seems to be for ever doing battle with the 50% turnout threshold. Naturally the reasons for public sector institutions’ lack of perceived trustworthiness are broader than the lack of honesty in elections, but the importance of elections as a means of achieving power cannot be underestimated in this connection. Perhaps the public would start to have more trust in government institution if those in power trusted each other more; and if, instead of legal norms ensured by state enforcement powers which either merely enjoin or interdict, there were agreements of goodwill where the parties to the agreements would submit to rules of fair play.

Full article in Estonian