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DIRECT DEMOCRACY AND ITS INDIRECT NEUTRALIZATION IN POLITICAL SYSTEMS: LEARNING FROM THE CASE OF ESTONIA

Ero Liivik
Keywords: Direct democracy, political discourses, parliament, democracy ,

Abstract

The Estonian parliament is the only institution in the country that may call a referendum, i.e. the parliament itself can formulate the crucial question and put it forward for people to vote. The constitution, though, lacks the institution to harness the people's initiative, giving citizens an opportunity to put some questions or draft acts to vote by themselves. A large group of MP’s submitted a draft of an amendment to the constitution which would add people's initiative, with 25,000 signatures gathered, enabling them to put a draft act or question for vote. This draft act was in legislative proceedings on two separate occasions but failed to be completed and take effect within those eight years. In the parliamentary debates we could see a strong „clash of discourses“. On the one side, the proponents of direct democracy stressed different aspects of „alienation of power“ unfortunately the parliament as a representative body maintained the sole monopoly to act, while the parliamentary elections have been media-manipulated by certain interest groups.
Alternately, other speakers on the contrarian-side shared the view according to which direct democracy is unnecessary, even risky, populist means to cope with the strain of governance. Curiously, the deliberations in the parliament did not change anything; previously existing relationships of power were maintained.