The Riigikogu consists of 101 members who are elected by the people. For the organisation of the work of the Riigikogu, the Members of the Riigikogu elect a three-member Board that is chaired by the President of the Riigikogu. The Board represents the Riigikogu in both domestic and foreign relations and chairs the sittings of the Plenary Assembly. The factions of the Riigikogu carry out the political programme of political parties. The committees of the Riigikogu deal with the draft legislation and exercise parliamentary control over their fields of activity.
Members of the Riigikogu
The number of the members of the Riigikogu, 101, is approximately a cube root of the number of the Estonian citizens with the right to vote. The mandate of a member commences on the day the results of the election of the Riigikogu are announced and is suspended upon his or her appointment as member of the Government of the Republic or a minister. When a member of the Government of the Republic is released from his or her duties, his or her mandate of a member of the Riigikogu is restored.
At the first sitting of a new composition of the Riigikogu its members take an oath of office declaring loyalty to the Republic of Estonia and to its constitutional order.
The text of the oath is read by the eldest member of the Riigikogu and after that all other members sign the oath.
The Riigikogu must always have 101 members, and therefore the Constitution establishes the institution of an alternate member. An alternate member has all the rights and duties of a member of the Riigikogu.
Members of the Riigikogu are given guarantees by the Constitution that enable them to perform their duties independently, proceeding from their convictions and the promises given before the elections.
Members of the Riigikogu receive a salary for their work and have the right to reimbursement of the expenses related to work.
Board of the Riigikogu
The Board is elected every year in March.
The Board of the Riigikogu presides over the work of the Riigikogu. The Board is elected from among the members of the Riigikogu and it consists of the President of the Riigikogu, the First Vice-President of the Riigikogu and the Second Vice-President of the Riigikogu.
A new composition of the Riigikogu elects the Board at its first sitting for the term of one year. After that, regular elections of the Board of the Riigikogu are held at the last sitting of the Riigikogu plenary working week before one year has passed since the previous regular election of the Board of the Riigikogu.
Work of the Board of the Riigikogu
The Board of the Riigikogu represents the Riigikogu in both domestic and foreign relations and chairs the sittings of the Plenary Assembly. The responsibilities of the Board include:
- organising the representation of the Riigikogu, making decisions concerning the official travel of the members of the Riigikogu
- deciding the number of members of the standing committees of the Riigikogu, and the number of seats each faction has in the standing committees
- appointing the members of the Riigikogu not belonging to a faction to the standing committees
- approving the composition of the standing committees and changes to them
- registering of the factions of the Riigikogu and the changes in their composition
- preparing the agenda for a plenary working week of the Riigikogu and submitting it for approval to the Riigikogu
- appointing of leading committees to the draft legislation introduced to the legislative proceeding of the Riigikogu and monitoring the conformity of the initiated legislation to the requirements provided by law
- establishing and approving the organisational structure of the Chancellery of the Riigikogu
- establishing the salary rates for positions in the Chancellery of the Riigikogu
- if necessary, convening the representatives of factions in order to hear their opinions on issues relating to the organisation of the work of the Riigikogu.
President of the Riigikogu
The President of the Riigikogu represents the Riigikogu and organises the work of the Riigikogu. The President of the Riigikogu chairs the sittings of the plenary assembly of the Riigikogu, convenes additional sittings and extraordinary sessions of the Riigikogu, and the first sittings of the committees of the Riigikogu.
In addition to that, the President of the Riigikogu convenes and chairs the sittings of the Board of the Riigikogu. In the absence of the President of the Riigikogu, upon the suspension of his or her authority and in other cases, the duties of the President of the Riigikogu are performed by a Vice-President of the Riigikogu.
Factions of the Riigikogu
A faction can consist not less than five members of the Riigikogu
Members of political parties who are elected to the Riigikogu may form factions. The political parties carry out their political programme through factions.
A faction may be formed by not less than five members of the Riigikogu who are elected from a list of candidates of the same political party. This is also the smallest number of members of a faction.
Members of the Riigikogu who are elected from the list of candidates of the same political party may form only one faction. Each member of the Riigikogu may belong to only one faction. A member of the Riigikogu may leave a faction during the term of the authority of the composition of the Riigikogu, but he or she cannot join any other faction.
Committees of the Riigikogu
A Committee of the Riigikogu is a mini-parliament of a specialised field that consists of the members of the factions registered in the Riigikogu. The committees prepare draft legislation for discussion in the plenary assembly of the Riigikogu, involving also stakeholders when necessary. Besides that, the committees deal with the parliamentary control of their fields of specialisation.
You can find more information about the 11 standing committees of the Riigikogu here.
How many committees a member of the Riigikogu may belong to?
A member of the Riigikogu belongs to one standing committee.
A member of the Riigikogu belongs to one standing committee. Besides that, he or she can be a member of the European Union Affairs Committee, a select committee, a committee of investigation and a problem committee. The President and Vice-Presidents of the Riigikogu cannot serve on standing committees, with the exception of the European Union Affairs Committee.
The number of members of the standing committees and the distribution of seats by factions in the committees is decided by the Board of the Riigikogu. Such decisions are based on the principle of equal representation, good practice of parliamentary ethics and applications of factions.
The Board of the Riigikogu decides on the participation of a member of the Riigikogu not belonging to a faction in a standing committee, taking into account the wishes of the member and the feasibility of organising the work.
The European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, in co-operation with other standing committees, prepares the opinion of the Riigikogu on draft European Union legislation, etc. This Committee also exercises supervision over the activities of the Government of the Republic in implementing European Union policies.
What is a select committee?
The Riigikogu forms a select committee in order to perform the functions arising from law or international agreements.
A committee of investigation may be formed by the Riigikogu in order to investigate the circumstances relating to a matter of public interest.
The Riigikogu may also pass a resolution to form a problem committee. The purpose of this committee is to work through a problem of significant importance.
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