No. 18




The Possibilities of Implementing Direct Democracy in Estonia

16 December 2008


RiTo No. 18, 2008

A number of Estonian political forces have recently expressed the position that the public (“people”, “citizens” etc) must take greater part in political decision-making processes on both the state and local government level.

Usually the proposals have been justified with the need to reduce “alienation of power”, to counterbalance the power that has become concen-trated in the hands of the ruling elite, and so on. The proponents believe that in such a situa-tion, direct democratic mechanisms such as ballot initiatives and referendums should be explored. What should be noted is the fact that even though valid legislation provides for a number of direct democratic options, the proposals do not stress using them, but rather set-ting forth new methods or combining the existing ones. The article introduces and analyzes the proposals and discusses whether direct democracy might have a statutory role in Estonian democracy. The analysis shows that direct democracy is not some universal method for a good solution to the “problem” of power; but that in today’s complex society, it is in fact problematic to implement direct democracy, and more likely to create conflicts.

Full article in Estonian