The Mandate of a Member of Parliament and Minister, and Potential Compatibility
Drawing on her familiarity with practices in different countries, the author raises the question of whether it would be expedient for Estonia to abandon the requirement that a member of parliament may not simultaneously hold a minister´s post and vice versa.
In Estonia, the functions of member of parliament and government are kept strictly separate. The primary workplace of a member of the Riigikogu is in the Riigikogu, and thus an MP may hold any other position or fulfil tasks that are in conflict with the principle of separation of powers or which may in some other way cause a conflict of interest in the activity of a member of the Riigikogu. The separate performance of the functions of MP and minister prevents power from becoming absolute. Since Estonia joined the European Union, the workload of the current members of the Riigikogu has decreased compared to previous Riigikogu bodies, as the era of major reforms is over. By combining the mandate of member of parliament and the post of minister, the cooperation between the two parties would become stronger and perhaps the reputation of the Riigikogu and the government would increase. Although ministers will continue to be politically responsible, as MPs they are interested in maintaining the good reputation of parliament. At the same time there is cause for concern that power will become concentrated, especially considering the small size of Estonia.