People’s Assembly Results: Lower Election Threshold, But ‘No’ to Direct Presidential Elections

laine uudised-laine
8. Apr 2013

The People’s Assembly deliberation day wound up on Saturday with 16 proposals receiving support and two being voted out.

The citizen's "parliament", a crowdsourcing initiative designed to find and fix sore spots in the political system, reached its final act today, as a selected group of public representatives voted on proposals collected by organizers of the event in January and provided with impact analysis by various experts in Fabruary and March. 

The 16 popular proposals will be presented to the Parliament by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

The results of the votes are as follows:

Party financing

87 percent supported the idea that half of state funds earmarked for political parties should go to organizations elected to Parliament, with the other half to be divided between all candidates or parties, based on the number of votes received.

86 percent want increased monitoring of party finances.

85 percent agreed that anonymous, hidden or business donations should be criminally actionable.

78 percent supported the current party election law, whereby only the public, not legal bodies, may make political donations.

Politicization of public offices

87 percent want laws to regulate requirements for state and local municipality representatives and better regulate the role and responsibility of board members (of state-owned companies).

62 percent supported banning MP’s from supervisory boards of state-owned enterprises.

Political parties

75 percent found that the election threshold should be lowered from five to three percent.

65 percent agreed that the number of people needed to found a political party should be dropped from 1,000 to 200.

44 percent supported the possibility – if a certain number of signatures are collected – of forgoing the requirement that candidates put up a security deposit. The option was the most popular of three in this section.

Election laws

93 percent said they want changes to electoral laws, to oblige candidates who are elected to take up the position.

92 percent agreed that single candidates should have the same requirements as party candidates.

59 percent supported the current situation, where the president is elected by the Parliament, not the people.

53 percent supported the idea to change party election lists according to the number of votes gathered, as supposed to the party deciding the final positioning.

Civil participation

95 percent voted that the Parliament must discuss publicly initiated motions, if enough signatures are collected for support.

84 percent supported legislation that would regulate how information is made public and increase public participation in the law-drafting stage.

75 percent supported simplifying the process of publicly initiated proposals.

71 percent found that the assembly should gather if needed again.

The majority did not agree to the motion to ask for state funding for a permanent assembly.

At the beginning of the year, the assembly's website collected proposals and comments from the public in five topic areas: party financing, political parties, the electoral system, civil participation in politics and the politicization of public offices. Those signing into the site were also presented with an "other" option. Experts on the various topics worked through the nearly 2,000 proposals in February and March to create the items for Saturday's debate.

Members of the public in today’s debate were selected to proportionally represent all (voting) age groups, regions and nationalities, and both genders.

The assembly is an initiative proposed by President Ilves last November during a meeting he called with decision makers in light of widespread criticism of the government.

The assembly is organized by volunteers from NGOs such as the Estonian Cooperation Assembly, the Praxis Center for Policy Studies, the Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations (EMSL), the e-Governance Academy and the Open Estonia Foundation.