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Estonia / Supreme Court, Administrative Law Chamber / 3-3-1-49-15

Romeo Kalda v The Märjamaa Parish

Policy area:
Justice, freedom and security
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

Mr. Kalda, sentenced to life imprisonment, applied to be registered as a voter for the European Parliament elections in spring 2015. The Märjamaa parish secretary did not register him as according to the European Parliament Elections Act (EPEA) art. 4 (3)(2) and 20 (3). He made a complaint to the Administrative Court stating that this regulation is contrary to art. 39 (2) of the Charter, and art. 3 of Protocol 1 of the ECHR.

The County Court dismissed the application. The District Court granted the appeal and set aside the art. 20 (3) of the EPEA as it is incompatibile with the law of the European Union. The District Court found that the general prohibition to vote for persons convicted violated art. 3 of Protocol 1 of the ECHR; art. 6 (3) of the TEU; art. 39 of the Charter; and the Decision of the Council 76/787/ECSC. It, however, did not grant the applicant the right to vote, as the precise regulation of the right to vote were to be left to the Parliament. Both Mr. Kalda and the Märjamaa parish appealed to the Supreme Court. 

Outcome of the case:

The Administrative Law Chamber of the Supreme Court granted the appeal of the Märjamaa parish and dismissed the appeal of Mr. Kalda; it partially annulled the decision of the District Court. The Supreme Court found that the District Court did not have to evaluate abstractly whether the rights to vote is in compliance with relevant international obligations. Constitutional Review in Estonia is possible only in concrete cases; there is no abstract right to review. Therefore, the courts can not abstractly evaluate the constitutionality and compatibility of national law with EU law. It also found that as the EU law does not regulate the rights to vote of the convicted criminals, this competence is left to the national legislator. Limiting the voting right of a person convicted to life imprisonment does not violate any of the regulations mentioned above.