Estonian parliamentary election, 1940

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Parliamentary elections were held in Estonia on 14 and 15 July 1940 alongside simultaneous elections in Latvia and Lithuania. The elections followed the Soviet occupation of the three countries, and were rigged.[1] The Estonian Working People's League, a Communist front group, was the only party allowed to run, and won all 80 seats with 92.8% of the vote. The newly elected People's Parliament declared the Estonian SSR on 21 July and requested admission to the Soviet Union the following day. The request was approved by the Soviet government on 6 August.[2]


The elections followed the Soviet occupation of Estonia in June. The Communist Party established the Estonian Working People's League to run in the elections, whilst despite having only three days to organise, the opposition put forward 78 candidates in 66 of the 80 Riigikogu constituencies.[3] However, Prime Minister Johannes Vares was ordered by Soviet politician Andrei Zhdanov to remove opposition candidates from the ballot.[4] Opposition candidates were required to present a manifesto within a few hours, which most of them did.[3] However, almost all were subsequently removed by a mixture of threats, violence and invalidations.[5] Only one opposition candidate remained; Jüri Rajur-Liivak, who was later arrested along with the other removed candidates.[4]


The elections were not free or fair; on the first day of the election the main daily newspaper Rahva Hääl told readers that "it would be extremely unwise to shirk elections... Only people's enemies stay at home on election day." In addition, Red Army troops were present in the polling stations in Tartu.[5]


Party Votes % Seats
Estonian Working People's League 548,631 92.8 80
Invalid votes 42,399 7.2
Total 591,030 100 80
Registered voters/turnout 703,059 84.1
Source: Liivik

During the German occupation of Estonia during World War II the figures from the election were re-examined. Voter turnout was found to have been 80.1%, and the proportion voting for the Working People's League was revised down to 91.6%. The distortions in the official figures were caused by officials artificially reducing the number of registered voters and counting invalid votes as valid ones,[6] as well as assigning votes received by Rajur-Liivak to the Working People's League.[7] Additional evidence was uncovered that the Election Committee had forged 35,119 votes.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elections of the lower chamber of the parliament and establishing the Soviet order in Estonia in 1940 Estonica
  2. ^ The Soviet Era, 1940-85 Library of Congress Country Studies
  3. ^ a b Romuald J. Misiunas & Rein Taagepera (1983) The Baltic States, Years of Dependence, 1940-1980, University of California Press, p26
  4. ^ a b The White Book Riigikogu
  5. ^ a b c Misiunas & Taagepera, p27
  6. ^ Olev Liivik "Formation of the Supreme Soviet of the ESSR: Elections and the principles of assembling" Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, p9
  7. ^ Liivik, p10