Fair and transparent governance is the foundation of a democratic state in which the people’s confidence in their elected representatives is maintained.
Although the implementation of transparency is an ongoing process, we see a number of problems here:
- Consistent work is needed to ensure legislative transparency. Particularly during COVID-19 crisis, weaknesses in the so-called “regular system” have emerged, such as non-compliance with good regulatory practice and light and inappropriate changes to support measures and public procurement conditions. It is important to adhere to the principles of transparency and equal treatment, especially from the point of view of the public interest, resources and comprehensibility of legislation.
- The lack of transparency in legislation is also reflected in the partial transparency of lobbying. In March 2021, the Estonian government adopted a good practice for communicating with lobbyists, which allows senior government officials and ministers to make their meetings public. Nevertheless, it is a soft measure that does not extend to other lobbyists and does not impose obligations on lobbyists.
- Political culture. There are still cases of political corruption and unethical behaviour, which reflect shortcomings in the management culture and governance. What hinders the solution to the problem is the fact that corrupt or unethical behaviour does not generally affect the likelihood of a person or a party being elected. Pressure from the public and investigative journalism primarily nudge political culture.
- The circle of politicians and party financiers is narrow and rather corporate. Political parties are overly dependent on individual funders, which encourages corrupt ties. Election-related spending has risen steadily, making the role of money in politics remarkable. This, in turn, encourages dependence on large donors and potentially the purchase of policies. At the same time, the rate of payment of membership fees is low, the membership of political parties is not growing and the share of small donors is largely insignificant.
- Limitation of supervision of party funding. The mandate of the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee is not broad enough and requires amendments to the law to implement even those activities for which the Political Parties Act should have given a mandate.
To resolve these issues, we will do the following:
- We monitor the supervision of party funding for systematic errors and make proposals to reduce the impact of corrupt money in politics.
- We monitor the publication of lobby meetings and support the extension of lobbying rules to the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) and local governments.
- We cooperate with the Riigikogu Anti-Corruption Select Committee and the Chancellery of the Riigikogu to ensure that the good practice of conduct of a member of the Riigikogu is regularly updated and followed. TI Estonia is a partner to the Corruption Prevention Network to monitor the implementation of the Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2021-2025.
- We use the data to create applications that increase transparency and provide feedback on the standardization and quality of the data. See more at www.opener.ee
- We carry out public explanatory work to clarify unethical and corrupt cases and to solve problem areas. The aim is both to raise awareness of corruption and to prevent those convicted of corruption from returning to power.