No. 6




The origins and key issues of rules of order

17 December 2002


RiTo No. 6, 2002

  • Jüri Adams

    Jüri Adams

    Member of the 7th, 8th, 9th and 13th Riigikogu; co-author of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia

The writer presents an overview of the development of the Riigikogu rules of order over more than ten years. He is of the opinion that over time, the law on rules of order has become increasingly longer and more confusing. A printout of its 168 articles spans 53 pages. The structure of the law is completely hopeless. Presumably only the Riigikogu speakers’ assistants can remember what part lies where. To use the law, each case has to be viewed in terms of different far-flung sections of the law.

This, then, is the setting for introduction of a bill (1222 SE) that was prepared by the Riigikogu Chancellery. Even though the draft law has been restructured and is vastly more comprehensive and user-friendly, several internal conflicts persist.

The writer proposes that the Riigikogu institutionalize a speeded-up procedure. Situations arise from time to time, occasioned by events at home or abroad, that require a fast reaction time – the preparation of a statement, resolution, or legislative act. Our rules of order do not allow for such a development, since bills can only be introduced at certain times. Sometimes the head committee is assigned at a meeting days later; if it is not a government-sponsored bill, then the government should be queried for their opinion and the text of the bill going to a vote should be made available the night before. (There does exist, in theory, the possibility of the government calling for an extraordinary session of parliament.)

Still, why couldn’t we institutionalize a procedure for rapid passage of laws, specifying for example, 2/3 or 3/5 support for such an initiative, and dispensing with all time-consuming rules on such an occasion?

Full article in Estonian