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Previous issues, January

20 Years of Riigikogu Toimetised

Editor-in-Chief’s Column

RiTo conversation circle

Parliamentary democracy

Issues of national importance

State budget

Focus

100 years of the national university

Essay

Politics

  • Impact of the Intellectual History of Western Re-publicanism on the Debates over the Founding of the Republic of Estonia

    The article gives an overview of the impact of the intellectual history of Western republicanism on the shaping of the 1920 Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and political order in the Constituent Assembly.

  • Speeches by President of the Republic of Latvia Egils Levits at the Opening of the 2020 and 2022 Autumn Sessions of the Saeima

  • Formulating the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure in Estonia 1990–1992

    How did parliamentary procedural rules develop over the two years after the first free post-war elections in Estonia in March 1990?

  • Relations with Russia and Attempts to Overcome Communist Legacy*

    The massive enlargement of the European Union in 2004 ushered in a fundamental change – eight out of the ten new Member States had felt the yoke of Communist totalitarianism.

    * This is the 4th and last instalment in the series of articles published by Riigikogu Toimetised, where the author reminisces on the first fifteen years as an Estonian MEP (see also Riigikogu Toimetised No 42, 43, 44).

  • Baltic Sea Strategy Initiative: Ideas and Reality

    As a result of the extensive 2004 enlargement or the European Union, the Baltic Sea has to all intents and purposes become an internal sea of the Union, surrounded by eight Member States.

  • My First Fifteen Years as an Estonian Member of the European Parliament

    As a long-time Member of the European Parliament (EP), the author shares his memories of the first EP elections in Estonia and the popular attitudes in Estonia in 2004 when we joined the European Union.

  • Three Dilemmas of Democracy

    My doctoral thesis Pääsemine ja häving: Demokraatia mõju Soome ja Eesti julgeolekule aastatel 1918–1948 (Salvation and Destruction: Democracy’s Impact on the Security of Finland and Estonia in 1918–1948) argues that the relationship between democracy and security can be reduced to the three classical dilemmas: freedom vs. security, freedom vs. sovereignty, and sovereignty vs. security.  The aim of the article is to examine these dilemmas by providing examples from Estonian and Finnish history.

  • Estonia on Its Way into a Changing Europe

    After Estonia restored its independence in 1991, the first instinct of the national leaders was to join the united Europe as soon as possible.

  • Opportunities of State Reform and Estonia’s Options

    The article reviews the state reform initiatives and activities in Estonia over the recent years, interpreting these from the point of view of research literature on the topic. We can identify three major initiatives: by the Foundation for State Reform, the Government, and the Riigikogu.

  • Principal Problems of the Rules of Procedure of the Estonian Riigikogu

    Jüri Adams, member of four Riigikogus and a co-author of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, discusses the story of the development of the rules of procedure of the Riigikogu in his series of writings. This part is a sequel to Part I that was published in “Riigikogu Toimetised” (“Proceedings of the Riigikogu”) No. 39.

  • The Price of Social Resource and the Opportunities of a Cohesive Society

    Social capital and social cohesion are underrated values because they are more complicated issues to discuss than material values, legislation, and governance and administrative structures.

  • Principal Problems of the Rules of Procedure of the Estonian Riigikogu

    Historically, Estonia has been part of the German legal space. The Estonian parliamentarism was basically established on German models. The main terminology for parliamentary activities also developed as translations of corresponding German terms. From the point of view of the Estonian language, they are not always adequate and tend to create confusion nowadays.

  • Withering of the Parliament – Changes in the Foreign Policy Competence of the Pre-War Riigikogu*

    The article analyses what was the competence of the parliament in shaping and implementing foreign policy in the Republic of Estonia in 1918–1939 like in comparison with other institutions of state authority, and assesses whether the Parliament could perform the foreign policy tasks, obligations and rights provided by the law. During the period under discussion, several major legislative and political changes took place in the division of foreign policy competence.

    * The article is based on the author’s Master’s thesis “Political and Legal Competence of the Estonian Parliament in Foreign Policy 1917–1940”, which was defended at the University of Tartu in 2018 and was awarded August Rei Scholarship in Parliamentary Studies.

  • Would Estonia’s Electoral Law Allow for a “Polish Outcome”?

    Various circumstances combined enable a party in Poland to win a majority of parliamentary seats with 38 per cent of the votes. It is now using this fluke outcome to ensconce itself permanently, following the Hugo Chavez path in Venezuela. In Estonia, the largest party has rarely reached even 30 percent of the seats, and fond opinions have been voiced that Estonia’s electoral law supposedly prevents a one-party majority. This article reviews Estonia’s electoral history and the desiderata for adequate electoral rules. It presents the universal laws that connect the number and size of parties to the number of seats available, as documented in Shugart and Taagepera, Votes from Seats (2017).

  • The Nuclear Age. Introduction to the translation of Chapter 24 “The Nuclear Age” from “A Concise History of Warfare” * by Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery

    In the same way as we have seen the arrival of the Internet, and how it essentially changed the existing way of communicating and even the relations between the people, the hero of World War II Marshal Montgomery saw the arrival of weapons of mass destruction, their use, and how it essentially changed the existing international security situation. This was one reason why I thought it was important to introduce the readers of Riigikogu Toimetised one chapter from his book A Concise History of Warfare. This chapter, The Nuclear Age, deals with the coming of nuclear age, and its fruits.

    * Montgomery, B. L. (1968). A Concise History of Warfare. UK: George Rainbird Ltd.

  • The youth on the competence of the youth in elections

    The study argues that 16 and 17 year old adolescents have minimal skills and knowledge required for a competent electoral choice. This study is based on a 10-week e-course “Basics of an Active Citizen”, which was conducted from 9 January until 20 March 2017. It involved 29 students from 24 secondary schools in Estonia taking tests on required course materials and answering two reflective questions weekly. The reflection questions were designed so that it was possible to offer different answers in a personal way without contradicting the information in weekly study materials.

  • Russia’s new imperial patterns in relations with neighbouring states 2008‒2016

    Based on the current experiences – on the examples of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova – it can be concluded that Russia has got a systemic approach and long-term programme for drawing “near-abroad” countries into a dependency relationship and then politically realising this dependency relationship. To this is often added the advantage in terms of distance and history over other regional great powers in the realisation of its plans. Taking into account the rise of oil and gas prices in 2016, and Russia’s strategic ambitions, it is fairly rational to expect an improvement and wider use of Russia’s imperial pattern in 2017–2018, while for many target countries the situation is already complicated as it is and offers few ways for exit. Russia’s ambitions in the development of dependent partnership and achievement of political control concern in particular Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, but they have implications also on the Baltic states in so far as these patterns can be applied also to us, should favourable conditions arise.

  • Little notes (1917–1920)

  • Skalbe and his Little Notes

    Like Estonia, Latvia will soon be celebrating its centenary. The notes of Kārlis Skalbe, a Latvian writer and activist from the time when the Republic of Latvia was founded, continue to be relevant to this day.

  • Presidential elections – Expectations and reality

    In 2016, the President of Estonia was for the first time elected at extraordinary elections. 25 years ago the authors of the Constitution of Estonia were convinced that they had managed to develop a mechanism pursuant to which the political parties have to cooperate as effectively as they can in order that the candidate would win the support of two thirds of the members of the parliament at the elections in the Riigikogu. If the political parties fail to achieve that, the elections would transfer to the electoral college, a body specially formed for the purpose of electing the President, where the required quota would be smaller, only the majority of the electoral college members who participated in voting. Namely this low quota required in the electoral college gave the authors of the Constitution the assurance that the President would be elected during the regular elections.

  • Estonia’s security on the border of free world

    The geographical position and smallness of Estonia are a great possibility and at the same time also an inevitable challenge for us. Estonia is the smallest country in Europe and in the whole Western world that has managed to survive and succeed in spite of its political-geographical location.

  • Image of Estonia in Russia’s online-media in 2015 from security perspective

    Today, media is ever more actively and effectively used as an instrument for exerting influence on public opinion and political decisions. Non-democratic countries like Russia use media as means of propaganda in shaping ideological attitudes. Russia has also considerably increased military activities near the Baltic States, and continuously declared NATO its main enemy. Information field that distorts reality may damage the cohesion of different groups of population and create instability in the society, therefore Estonia should pay more attention to attacks targeted against the cohesion of the society, and develop psychological defence and resistance against anti-Estonian propaganda activities. In order to ensure the security of the society and the state and the sense of security of the people, and to prevent crises and increase confidence in the activities of the state, it is necessary to develop the psychological defence of the state more than it has been done so far. From the point of view of Estonia’s strategic communication and psychological defence, it is important to know how Estonia is depicted in Russian media. Unfortunately it has been assessed only empirically.

  • Will we get lost in history? Semiotic knots in a post-modern state. Estonia

    Post-modern technological factors of societal development (Internet, digitalization, sharing economy, etc.) are objectively aimed against the fundamentals of modernistic culture. Globalization sweeps away relative economic advantages, national traditions, languages, cultural codes (rituals, carnivals, etc., as defined by Meletinsky). The migration crisis not only demonstrates this objective tendency, but also the total inability of the European elites to manage new problems of significant magnitude. Neither Merkel nor Hollande are leaders, but bookkeeper types that perform at the mid-managerial level of a mid-size company. Two crises combine to form a perfect storm: objective globalization (or Europeanization), and mediocrity in cabinets.

  • Democratic civic education in times of crisis

    Should democratic civic education produce informed, patriotic, conformist and law-abiding citizens, or critical individuals with a mind of their own, who are capable of democratic participation both in defence of their individual interests and in extension of social justice in the democratic sense? Should all citizens, including future initiators, activists, spokespersons and contesters, first learn the sense of responsibility, conformi