Twenty Years of the Riigikogu: a Change from a Working to a Debating Parliament?
The analysis looks at how the balance in legislative activity between the parliament and the government has changed in Estonia over the last 20 years.
The parliament has become continuously less active while the government has started to dominate heavily in sponsoring and passing of legislation. A comparison of Estonia with the old Western European democracies as well as with other new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) shows a development of very similar patterns. The Estonian Riigikogu, along with other CEE parliaments, has been gradually losing out to the government in initiating legislation, but is still clearly more active in comparison to Western Europe. Whether the growing passivity in a branch traditionally associated with „working parliaments” is compensated with actions typical for „debating parliaments” is evaluated on the background of the data on government oversight function of the parliament. It seems that the Riigikogu is indeed more active in overseeing the government, as its role in initiating legislation diminishes. Overall, the results point towards a normalization process with the Riigikogu becoming more like its counterparts in old Western parliamentary democracies.