Thoughts on Parliamentarism, Democracy and the Trends of the Riigikogu
The Deputy Speaker of the Riigikogu, Siiri Oviir, who is also a representative of the opposition parties in the three-member board of the Riigikogu, focuses in her article on the role of the Parliament in law-making and on the issues of parliamentary control, supervision and autonomy.
The article proceeds from the premise of the separation of powers stipulated in the Estonian Constitution and the rights of the political minority and the Universal Declaration on Democracy formulated at the Cairo session of the IPU Council in 1997, which recognises democracy as an ideal and a goal at the same time.
The author sees law drafting as the major function of the Parliament, which is the main and primary means of governance in a state governed by rule of law. Through legislation, the Parliament participates in the management of the country, and in this activity the rights and possibilities of the political minority must be guaranteed. Oviir also emphasises the need for social-economic analyses in order to provide the MPs with adequate information on the possible effects of legislation. She believes that if in the ‘90s shortcomings in preparing draft legislation and in assessing its legal, economic and social effects could be justified to a certain extent, today the situation has changed and quality standards for draft legislation should be maintained. Estonia can use the experience of OECD and EU countries in developing and implementing good law-making standards5. The Estonian legislator should ask itself even more often whether legal regulation in the form of laws is necessary at all to realise the adopted goals, or whether specifying of economic and administrative regulation would suffice. On the other hand, referring to Jürgen Habermas, the author poses a question how the legislator should try to diminish the monetarisation and bureaucratisation of day to day life in a civil society that could also be seen as “colonisation” of the people’s daily way of life by the state through various certification procedures, social pre-care programmes and other procedures established by laws.
The author believes that in order to answer this question it is necessary to reinforce the mechanisms of parliamentary supervision and control, including the work of parliamentary investigative committees, for which the Constitution provides a possibility.
Siiri Oviir, born 1947, lawyer, graduated from the University of Tartu 1975, member of the VII, VIII and IX Riigikogu 1992-; Deputy Speaker of the Riigikogu 1999-, candidate for President 1996; Minister of Social Affairs 1990-92 and 1995, member of the Estonian Lawyers Union and Chairwoman of the Estonian Women’s Union 1996-.