The effect of the constitution on the political decision-making process
The constitution entered into force as a result of the June 28, 1992 referendum, in which 91.2% of Estonian citizens voted for it. This kind of solidarity expressed the general belief that a new social contract on the foundations of the state was necessary for the road ahead. The rapid transition to a democratic society and market economy that occurred in Estonia over the past ten years has been supported by the constitutional law and the values it enshrines.
The significance of the constitution in social life and political decision-making does not only depend on politicians’ knowledge or the system of constitutional checks and balances, but foremost the people’s attitude toward the rule of law. Law has been very important to Estonians, as a small nation, throughout history. A. H. Tammsaare’s classic novel Truth and Justice clearly shows how important the sense of law was in people’s everyday lives and relations with each other in traditional Estonian society. Even the darkest reaches of the occupation could not snuff out the veneration of justice. On the contrary, Estonians drew hope from their firm belief – sooner or later, justice will prevail and violence end. Wishing to restore its historical place among European states, in 1995 Estonia submitted its application for entry in the EU. Preparations have been intense, and now we have a real chance of completing accession talks this year. The question of what Estonia’s relationship to the new situation as a member state will be is taking on more and more currency. Answering the question will take the united efforts of politicians and lawyers, and most importantly the solution must be an acceptable one for the people.