On the third day of operation of the People’s Assembly website, people have filed 237 proposals, with the bulk of them aiming to reform the electoral system and political financing rules.
As of Wednesday morning, 117 proposals were made regarding elections, 52 regarding political financing, 31 regarding citizen involvement in lawmaking, 21 regarding political parties, and 16 regarding the politicization of public offices.
“The proposals that have been made range from wall to wall,” e-Governance Academy director Liia Hänni told ETV on Monday.
One of the most popular propositions was to introduce the preference vote – where voter preference for specific MPs is considered – rather than the current closed-list system where the party’s own list determines how seats are divided up.
At least one proposal was made in Russian, calling for the granting of Estonian citizenship to everyone born in the country. The idea was supported by nine and opposed by 33 people.
A number of elected officials have also weighed in on the website.
Proposals made by them included the implementation of direct presidential elections; bringing the number of members required for the creation of a new political party from 1,000 to 500; requiring parties to have positive net assets; setting election campaign spending limits; and reducing the number of members in Parliament.
Center Party MP Priit Toobal attacked a claim to fame of e-Estonia – electronic elections. But 108 people opposed his motion, and only 24 supported it. At the other extreme, only 23 supported transitioning to an online-voting-only platform, while 68 were against.
Olari Koppel, chairman of the Estonian Cooperation Assembly, one of the NGOs behind the project, expressed confidence that the People’s Assembly website could continue as operation beyond the initial experiment, as proposals can only be made until the end of the month.
“If the process is successful and the public accepts it as one option for getting things done and Parliament finds that laws can be reformed based on the proposals, then I believe the People’s Assembly will have proven itself as a democratic instrument and can in principle be used for discussion in other areas,” Koppel told uudised.err.ee on Monday.
“It seems that, at the least, the launch has been successful. My inner feeling – that the entries would turn out to be useful, well-argued and that there would be relatively few substance-less whacking – has turned out to be true,” Koppel said.
Regarding the “usefulness” of the proposals, at least one was circulating on social media that was not quite what the People’s Assembly had had in mind.
A citizen suggested that hemp consumption be legalized on Piirisaar, a small island on Lake Peipsi with fewer than 100 residents and a cultural preserve of Old Believers. The suggestion was endorsed by 22 and opposed by 41 people.
Championed by the Estonian president in light of political turmoil late last year, the crowd-sourcing website – rahvakogu.ee – aims to bring democracy closer to voters and to fix controversial political laws. Those who want to make a proposal or comment are required to log in with their national ID card.
In the first stage of the initiative, until the end of January, proposals and comments will be submitted online. In February, analysts will go over the proposals and group them into bundles. In March, the proposals that win enough support will be debated at public meetings and presented to Parliament by the president.
Addressing the analysis phase, Hänni said: “It does not mean that someone will say that one proposal is good or that another is bad. They will simply try to analyze the impact of a given proposal on society.”