Ilves: Estonia Undergoing Period of Transformation

laine uudised-laine
9. Apr 2013

In Parliament today, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves handed over 16 legal proposals made by the People's Assembly, a crowdsourcing initiative Ilves himself launched in light of political turmoil last November.

Addressing Parliament, Ilves said Estonian society is going through a period of transformation. He cited Maive Rute, an official with the European Commission, who said lately that when successful countries reach a certain point of livelihood, a certain state of crisis arises.

"Expectations change. People's basic needs have been resolved, due to which people can no longer be content with the existing situation. In some countries, such as South Korea and Taiwan, this led to a revolution. In Chile and Spain, it led to a change in values. That boundary – per capita GDP of 15,000 dollars – was achieved in Estonia in 2012," Ilves said.

He continued: "I agree with Rute's assertion that we are currently living through a significant change in values. A number of issues that five or 10 years ago secured votes at the elections now merit a smirk. And especially among those who we believe will guarantee our future – the open-minded and well-educated youth."

The citizen's parliament focused on reforming five primary areas: party financing, political parties, politicization of public offices, election laws, and public participation in democracy.

On Tuesday, Ilves lauded the initiative as one opportunity for developing democratic involvement. He said the work of Stanford University researcher James Fishkin has shown that the methodology used by the Estonian initiative provides a far more accurate indication of public sentiment than surveys.

The three-phase project aimed to give Estonian citizens a role in reforming the political system in light of popular discontent with the ruling parties. In January, the public was able to submit proposals and arguments on a website. Those proposals were then filtered by a team of analysts. In the final phase, last Saturday, 315 citizens and experts were called together for a day of deliberation in which they voted on the final proposals.