No. 39



The Need for State Reform and Proposals of the Foundation for State Reform

05 June 2019


RiTo No. 39, 2019

State reform is an immanent, i.e. an inherent phenomenon associated with any type of national independence. After all, a country will never be complete; this is even more true for a small developing country with a catch-up economy and an ambition to significantly improve the quality of life.

The need to step up the implementation of the reform to improve the quality of governance has been raised for several reasons – from global trends and international competition to the particular conditions in Estonia.

The ideas of the Foundation for State Reform were not born out of nothing. These were preceded by several stages of development as well as initiatives by a number of institutions, citizens, and voluntary social organisations who had proposed basic ideas. For the temporary Foundation, the state reform is not an end in itself, but only a means to meet Estonia’s national interests and help Estonia remain a well-governed country with a clear vision that serves its people.

Developing and presenting the proposals of the Foundation for State Reform took place on a very broad basis which consisted of the earlier activities and the involvement of experts, including both current and former top officials. A separate analysis was conducted of the state reform and governance models in other countries; the Netherlands, Sweden, and Scotland were identified as the three best role models.

As a result of all this, a state reform concept was fully developed by autumn 2018; it was also published in a book along with its annexes. The 146 pages and 11 chapters are built around 67 specific proposals in seven main fields: popular involvement in governance and legislation, constitution and legislation, empowering the parliament, Government of the Republic, civil service and administration, judicial system, other constitutional institutions, and local governments. In view of the scale and complexity of the reform, its duration has been realistically planned for two election cycles, i.e. eight years.

The concept was presented to all the leading political parties, and a special conference to introduce it was organised in the Riigikogu, which attracted wide attention. The general public was broadly informed through various channels. Before the elections, representatives of all the current five parliamentary parties as well as three parties with parliamentary ambitions signed a joint memorandum of political parties on the state reform. These elections were the first time when the election rhetoric by and large talked about the state reform as an obvious objective. By now a large part of the proposals of the Foundation have been incorporated into the coalition agreement.