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Estonia

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Politics and government of
Estonia



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The Prime Minister of Estonia (Estonian: Eesti Vabariigi Peaminister) is the head of government of the Republic of Estonia. The prime minister is nominated by the President after appropriate consultations with the parliamentary factions and conferred by Parliament. This is usually the leader of the largest party or coalition in the Parliament. The current Prime Minister is Andrus Ansip.

The activity of the government is directed by the Prime Minister, who is the actual political head of state. He does not head any specific ministry, but is, in accordance with the constitution, the supervisor of the work of the government. The Prime Minister’s significance and role in the government and his relations with other ministries often depend on the position of the party led by the prime minister in vis-à-vis the coalition partners, and on how much influence the prime minister possesses within his own party. If the prime minister has a strong position within his party, and the government is made up solely of representatives of that party, he can enjoy considerable authority. In all crucial national questions, however, the final word rests with Riigikogu as the legislative power.

Contents

History

Estonia was governed by a Prime Minister during the first two years (1918-1920) of its independence after the collapse of the Russian Empire.

Under Estonia's 1920 constitution, a Presidential system was adopted with the State Elder of Estonia holding executive powers. This system was, in practice, a radically parliamentary system because the State Elder could be dismissed by the Parliament with a simple majority. Moreover, the State Elder was not the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, nor could he ratify laws or dissolve Parliament. The dissolution of Parliament was only possible through a referendum (see, for example, Seppo Zetterberg, "A History of Estonia" / Viron historia. 3rd edition. Helsinki: The Finnish Literary Society / Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2007, pages 524-525). Under a new constitution passed by plebiscite in 1933, the position of Prime Minister was recreated as head of government in 1934 in a more parliamentary system. Again, for the sake of clarity, it must be emphasized that the new constitution was, in practice, strongly presidential: the President appointed and dismissed the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In addition, the President could veto laws, give decrees (statutes) and dissolve Parliament (see Zetterberg 2007, pages 558-559). The sitting State Elder, Konstantin Päts, appointed himself to the position of Prime Minister and in this position was then able to suspend elections for Elder of State and for the Estonian Parliament. He remained Prime Minister, declaring himself "President-Regent", until 1938, when elections were held under a new constitution and he was elected President.

Prime Ministers

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1918 to 1920

Name Took Office Left Office Party Coalition
1 Konstantin Päts 1 24 February 1918 26 November 1918 Union of Rural People Non-party big coalition
2 Konstantin Päts 1 26 November 1918 8 May 1919 Union of Rural People Non-party big coalition
3 Otto August Strandman 8 May 1919 18 November 1919 Estonian Labor Party ESDTP+TE+RE
4 Jaan Tõnisson 18 November 1919 28 July 1920 Estonian People's Party ESDTP+TE+RE
5 Ado Birk 2 28 July 1920 30 July 1920 Estonian People's Party TE+RE+KRE
6 Jaan Tõnisson (2nd time) 3 30 July 1920 26 October 1920 Estonian People's Party RE
7 Ants Piip4 26 October 1920 21 December 1920/25 January 1921 Estonian Labor Party TE


The first two governments were Country Councils (Maapäeva or Maanõukogu valitsused); the next five were appointed by the directly-elected Constituent Assembly (Asutav Kogu).

1920 to 1934

The head of government was called the "State Elder" (Riigivanem). He was the head of the cabinet and was elected by parliament as well as depending on it. Thus he was closer to a PM, although he had some responsibilities of a president as well. A specific president did not exist; presidential functions were shared between the State Elder and the speaker of the parliament. A government could be, as in 1919-1920, and sometimes was, put into office by a simple majority vote with even less than an absolute majority, and could be removed in the same way.


Name Took office Left office Party Coalition
1 Konstantin Päts 25 January 1921 21 November 1922 Farmers Unions TE+PK+RE+KRE
2 Juhan Kukk 21 November 1922 2 August 1923 Estonian Labor Party TE+PK (+RE)
3 Konstantin Päts 2 August 1923 26 March 1924 Farmers Unions PK+TE+RE+KRE
4 Friedrich Karl Akel 26 March 1924 16 December 1924 Christian People's Party TE+RE+KRE
5 Jüri Jaakson 16 December 1924 15 December 1925 Estonian Peoples Party PK+ESDTP+TE+RE+KRE
6 Jaan Teemant 15 December 1925 23 July 1926 Farmers Unions PK+TE+KRE+AS+RVP
7 Jaan Teemant 23 July 1926 4 March 1927 Farmers Unions PK+AS+RE+KRE+MAJA
8 Jaan Teemant 4 March 1927 9 December 1927 Farmers Unions PK+AS+RE+KRE+MAJA
9 Jaan Tõnisson 9 December 1927 4 December 1928 Estonian Peoples Party PK+AS+TE+RE
10 August Rei 4 December 1928 9 July 1929 Estonian Socialist Workers Party ESTP+AS+TE+KRE
11 Otto August Strandman 9 July 1929 12 February 1931 Estonian Labor Party PK+AS+TE+RE+KRE
12 Konstantin Päts 12 February 1931 19 February 1932 Farmers Unions ESTP+PK+RE+MAJA
13 Jaan Teemant 19 February 1932 19 July 1932 Farmers Unions PK+AS+TE+RE
14 Karl August Einbund 19 July 1932 1 November 1932 United Peasants Party ÜPE+RKE
15 Konstantin Päts 1 November 1932 18 May 1933 United Peasants Party Non-party
16 Jaan Tõnisson 18 May 1933 21 October 1933 National Centre Party RKE+AS (+ PK internal opposition)
17 Konstantin Päts 21 October 1933 24 January 1934 United Peasants Party Non-party

Legend

PK - Farmers Unions (Põllumeeste Kogud)
TE - Estonian Labor Party (Eesti Tööerakond)
RE - Estonian Peoples Party (Eesti Rahvaerakond)
ESDTP - Estonian Social Democratic Workers Party /Eesti Sotsiaaldemokraatiline Partei; since 1925 ESTP - Estonian Socialist Workers Party (eesti Sotsialistlik Tööliste Partei
AS - Settlers party (Asunikud ...)
KRE Christian Peoples Party (Kristlik Rahvaerakond)
RVP - National Liberal Party (Rahvuslik Vabameelne Partei)
MAJA - Union of the Real Estate Owners Societies (Üleriiklik Majaomanike Seltside Liit)
ÜPE - United Peasants Party (Ühinenud Põllumeeste erakond), former and later PK+AS
RKE - National Centre Party (Rahvuslik Keskerakond), former RE+TE+KRE+MAJA


Governments of:
1-2 - I Riigikogu
3-6 - II Riigikogu
7-10 - III Riigikogu
11-13 - IV Riigikogu
14-17 - V Riigikogu

1934 to 1937

Name Took Office Left Office Party
Konstantin Päts (2nd Time) 24 January 1934 3 September 1937 Non-party

1938 to 1944

Name Took Office Left Office Party
6 Kaarel Eenpalu 5 9 May 1938 (acting since 21 April 1938) 12 October 1939 Non-party
7 Jüri Uluots 12 October 1939 21 June 1940 Non-party
8 Johannes Vares 6 21 June 1940 25 August 1940 Estonian Communist Party
Otto Tief (acting) 18 September 1944 12 January 1953 Non-party

1991 to present

Name Took Office Left Office Party
Edgar Savisaar (acting) 20 August 1991 29 January 1992 Popular Front of Estonia
Tiit Vähi (acting) 29 January 1992 21 October 1992 (none)
9 Mart Laar 21 October 1992 8 November 1994 Pro Patria Union
10 Andres Tarand 8 November 1994 17 April 1995 (none)
11 Tiit Vähi (2nd time) 17 April 1995 17 March 1997 Estonian Coalition Party
12 Mart Siimann 17 March 1997 25 March 1999 Estonian Coalition Party
Mart Laar (2nd time) 25 March 1999 28 January 2002 Pro Patria Union
13 Siim Kallas 28 January 2002 10 April 2003 Estonian Reform Party
14 Juhan Parts 10 April 2003 12 April 2005 Res Publica
15 Andrus Ansip 12 April 2005 Estonian Reform Party

Footnotes

  • Note 1: Päts was imprisoned until 20 November 1918. From the time he was appointed to the post of Prime Minister until he was released, Jaan Poska assumed the duties of Prime Minister of his behalf.
  • Note 2: Though appointed, Birk never assumed office.
  • Note 3: Was acting Prime Minister from 29 July to 30 July 1920.
  • Note 4: State Elder since December.
  • Note 5: Was acting Prime Minister from 21 April 1938 to 9 May 1938.
  • Note 6: Appointment declared illegal by the Estonian Electoral College convened on 20 April 1944.

External links


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