Teder: Tallinn's electoral system needs overhaul

  • 2008-11-05
  • TBT Staff and Wire Reports

The chancellor of justice said Tallinn needs a new municipal electoral system

TALLINN - Estonia's Chancellor of Justice, Indrek Teder, has called for the Tallinn City Council electoral system to undergo a complete overhaul, claiming the current system violates the constitution.
According to Teder, the existing borough-based electoral system doesn't uphold the constitution's principle of electoral proportionality and uniformity because some of Tallinn's boroughs are far smaller than others, giving their residents a disproportionate voting influence. Teder said that the Supreme Court has frequently highlighted that voters should have an equal opportunity to influence electoral results and candidates should have equal opportunities of being elected.

"In my opinion, the procedure of the election to the Tallinn City Council provided by the present act does not permit it," he said.
Teder said that if the number of seats allocated to each borough was proportionate to the number of voters then the system would be equitable. However, current law distributes half the seats equally across the boroughs. Only the remaining half is allocated subjectively depending on borough size, leading to inevitable misrepresentation.

He suggested that a possible solution may lie in the formation of a single electoral district or in splitting the city into more evenly represented voting districts. However, he has admitted that these changes would take time to implement, and might not be feasible until the local elections of 2012.
Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar has responded to Teder's remarks by demanding the changes be enforced immediately and made applicable for next year's elections.

Savisaar said he has already instructed Municipal Secretary Toomas Sepp to draft a bill to implement changes to Tallinn's electoral system as derived from the principles outlined by Teder.
"I do not agree with the postponement of the restoration of the citizens' fundamental rights by another five years and to do it in an undefined future. This is not acceptable either ethically or in legal terms," he said.
Tallinn's next local election will take place on Oct. 18, 2009.