Estonian top court: Mps can belong to rural municipality, city councils
Estonia's Supreme Court has deemed the amendments to the Status of Members of the Riigikogu Act and Local Government Organization Act that allow a person to be both a member of the parliament and a member of a local government council to be constitutional.
The councils of the rural municipalities of Kopu, Laane-saare, Vormsi and Kose turned to the Supreme Court, seeking the amendments to be deemed unconstitutional, the Supreme Court stated.
The Supreme Court said that the Constitution does not stipulate that people who decide on issues concerning local life can not be involved in decisions concerning the state. "A situation where MPS better understand issues of local life ensures more extensive consideration of the rights and interests of local governments in the activity of the legislative body," the top court found.
The contested amendments do not result in a responsibility for the municipality to determine its working time so that it takes into consideration the working time of the parliament. The council establishes its own working time and the laws in question will not narrow the authority of the council, the Supreme Court said.
"As the council is not generally the main place of work for the council members, the working time must be organized so that it takes into consideration the interests of all council members, including their need to continue working in their principal job position. A member of the parliament as a person with a principal job in the parliament does not differ from other council members in that regard," the top court said.
It must be noted that Estonia is a parliamentary state and the main political powers are the parties. The latter’s goal is to exercise public authority, as well as authority on the level of local government. Therefore it is normal that parties are represented both in the parliament and in local government councils. The ban for MPS to belong to local government councils is thus unnecessary as the same party can be represented in both entities anyway.
Resulting from that, the Supreme Court has decided to not satisfy the application of the rural municipality councils. The law will enter into force starting from the day the results of the elections to local municipality councils are announced later this year.
Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, or LG) is scrapping its passenger service between Vilnius and Moscow in a move that is expected to save the state railway company 2 million Euros annually, but passengers will continue to be able to take a Russian train to the Russian capital. Starting next Monday, May 15, 2017, LG'S cars will not be added to the Russian train traveling from Kaliningrad to Moscow via Vilnius. LG last year saw the number of passengers on the Vilniusmoscow service drop by 27 per cent compared with 2015.