Politics Needs Openness
The Riigikogu Toimetised (RiTo) conversation circle on 28 November discussed the Estonian political party system – its formation after the restoration of independence and later development as well as its current problems and the ways to overcome them.
The participants in the conversation circle were former Members of the Riigikogu Jüri Adams, Liia Hänni and Ott Lumi. RiTo Editor-in-Chief Helle Ruusing acted as the moderator and compiled a summary of the discussion.
Looking at the development of the Estonian political parties through the years, the participants of the conversation circle found that several amendments to the Acts which, on the one hand, organised the political party system were, on the other hand, restrictive, requiring first of all that the political parties were big and strong. In order to achieve that, among other things, the requirement of one thousand members was established for the political parties. Now we have reached the situation where we have only four parties in the Parliament. This has made several political observers ask whether a people’s representative body in such a form guarantees that the fundamentally different interests that exist in the society have a fair access to decision-making. The participants in the conversation circle quite unanimously agreed that the requirement of one thousand members must be mitigated to open the participation in politics to more people and associations with different views. At the same time it was found that unlike many other countries, taking part in the life of the society through political parties is in the eyes of our people a surprisingly acceptable form of participation. Leaving aside all other problems connected with political parties, from the financing concerns of small parties to the possible cartelisation of large parties, it is certainly positive that people have joined the political parties and want to have a say in politics through them.