“Tässä työssä auttaa, että on pienenä ihaillut Peppi Pitkätossua.”

Electoral law in Estonia

Question for written answer to the Commission
Satu Hassi, Indrek Tarand, Cronberg Tarja (Greens/EFA)
14.6.2012

The election law in Estonia requires that the parties taking part in the parliamentary elections pay a deposit sum of money for each candidate, equal to two month's minimum salary. In the elections for the European Parliament the deposit sum is 5 times that of the national elections. According to § 77 of the election law, this sum will be returned to those parties that reach the national threshold of 5 percent of the votes and to independent candidates if they are elected or receive at least one-half of the simple quota for the district. However, according to the second part of the § 77, parties that fail to surpass the 5 percent threshold will lose the deposit money.
 
The justification by the Estonian authorities is that the aim of this law is to prevent excess work for the electoral committee from those parties and candidates that are not believed to have the support needed to reach the election threshold or whose motivation is other than attaining a seat in the parliament.
 
A practical consequence of this law however is that due to financial constraints, smaller parties are not able to present a full list of candidates. In addition, parties that lose all their seats in the parliament may end up in a financially untenable situation. The deposit requirement seems to be a political barrier and does not follow the principles of democracy.

The whole idea of preventing extra work from candidates that do not have the necessary support sounds as if the result of an election could be known beforehand, which flies in the face of the whole principle of political power based of the will of people expressed in free and fair elections.

– What is the view of the Commission on the compatibility of the Estonian electoral law with the fundamental principles and values of the EU?
– Does the Commission consider this law an unfair barrier for smaller and new parties in parliamentary elections? 
– Is the Commission considering taking measures with regards to the Estonian electoral law?