No. 3




Simplification of Electoral Rules

18 June 2001


RiTo No. 3, 2001

  • Rein Taagepera

    Professor Emeritus of University of Tartu and University of California, Irvine

Participation in the Riigikogu elections has tumbled to a worrisome degree because all too many people think popular vote has no impact.

One of the reasons is the complex and internally contradictory electoral rules. I repeat here my longstanding recommendation to strive for simple electoral rules. The present ones combine Israel-type nation-wide rigid lists where the voter can only select the party with the Finnish vote for a specific candidate within a district. Estonia should not leap to completely new rules, the way it was inevitably done in 1990, and quite pointlessly in 1992. It’s more fruitful to simplify the existing mixed rules, deleting one part of them. This can be done in two directions – Israel or Finland. One could abolish the present districts and open list, preserving the nation-wide closed list. This would result in pure party democracy, where the voter leaves it up to the party whom it will send to the Riigikogu. Or, in the opposite direction, one could abolish the nation-wide part and allocate all seats by open list in districts, using largest remainders in addition to the present full simple quotas. This is what I’d prefer, because the interests of various regions outside Tallinn should find representation in the Riigikogu. The time to simplify electoral rules is now, but they shouldn’t become effective until after the next elections so as to avoid discussion bogging down in short-range personal interests.

Full article in Estonian