Legislature

Laws are approved according to the constitutional procedures.

The following parties have the right to initiate laws:

  • A member of Riigikogu
  • Factions of the Riigikogu
  • Committee of the Riigikogu
  • Government of the Republic
  • President of the Republic for amending the Constitution.

The Riigikogu has the right to turn to the Government of the Republic with the suggestion to initiate a draft Act recommended by the Riigikogu, if the relevant decision is made with a majority of votes in the Riigikogu. The procedure for approving the laws in the Riigikogu is stated in the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act. The approval of laws by referendum is regulated by the Referendum Act. Amending the Constitution is regulated by the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia.

Draft Act until approval

An initiated draft Act is presented to the Chairperson of the session in the Riigikogu, together with the letter of explanation and other necessary additional documents. Within 3 days, the Board of the Riigikogu makes a decision whether to proceed with the draft Act. In case of proceeding, a leading committee is assigned for the draft Act. In order to approve the law, the relevant draft Act must be discussed on at least two readings in the Riigikogu as a rule.

The initiator of the draft Act has the right to revoke the draft Act at any stage of proceeding in the Riigikogu. With this, the initiator of the draft Act can prevent the approval of such a law that incorporates amendments to the draft Act that the initiator does not agree with. The approved law is signed by the Chairperson of the Riigikogu and then the Chancellery of the Riigikogu presents the law to the President of the Republic for announcing.

Draft Act in case of a change of the composition of the Riigikogu

If the powers of the composition of the Riigikogu end, then all draft Acts that the Riigikogu was not able to proceed to the end shall be removed from procedure. The member of the Riigikogu having initiated the draft Act may not be in the new composition of the Riigikogu, the Government of the Republic having initiated the draft Act is replaced by a new government, and the new composition of the Riigikogu is not versed in the previous work made with the draft Act.

Entering the law into force

Before a law enters into force, it must be announced by the President of the Republic. When the President of the Republic announces a law, it is published in the State Gazette. The President of the Republic can refrain from announcing a law that has been approved by the Riigikogu, sending it back to the Riigikogu for new discussion and deciding. If the Riigikogu approves again the law sent back by the President of the Republic without making any amendments to it, then the President of the Republic shall announce the law or apply to the Supreme Court for determining the conformance of the law to the Constitution. If the Supreme Court satisfies the application of the President of the Republic, then the law will not enter into force. If the Supreme Court does not satisfy the application, then the President of the Republic must announce the law.

The law will enter into force on the tenth day after having been published in the State Gazette, unless a different deadline is stated in the law.

Amending the Constitution

At least one fifth of the composition of the Riigikogu, and also the President of the Republic has the right to initiate an amendment of the Constitution. Chapter I “General clauses” and Chapter XV “Amending the Constitution” of the Constitution can be amended only with a referendum. The Constitution can be amended with a law that has been approved by one of the following ways:

  • Via a referendum
  • By two consecutive compositions of the Riigikogu
  • By the Riigikogu as an emergency procedure.

Main source: Constitution of the Republic of Estonia: commented edition (Tallinn 2002)

Compiled by: Ministry of Justice