Head of State of Estonia

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The Head of State of Estonia or State Elder (Estonian: Riigivanem) (a literal translation: Elder of State) was the official title of the Estonian head of state from 1920 to 1937. He combined some of the functions held by a president and prime minister in most other democracies.

According to the 1920 Estonian Constitution, which was enforced by the “Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, the Referendum Act and the Citizens’s Initiative Act Implementation Act“ on July 2, 1920, after being approved by the Constituent Assembly on June 16, 1920 (Riigi Teataja August 9, 1920 No. 113/114), the Government of the Republic consisted of the Riigivanem (Head of State) and Ministers (Section 58).

The responsibilities of the Head of State were representing the Republic of Estonia, administration and co-ordination of the activities of the Government of the Republic, chairing the Government meetings; the Head of State had the right to make inquiries about the activities of the Ministers (Section 62). The Government of the Republic appointed one of its members the Deputy of the Elder of State.

In practice, the Head of State had very little power. The 1920 constitution was radically parliamentarian in character, and the Head of State could be voted out of office at any time. This limited his ability to play a balancing role between the government and the legislature.

With the 1934 constitution, the institution saw a reform and it became the equivalent of a president only as a separate head of government was to be elected. The 1934 coup by Konstantin Päts resulted in the institution never coming to real life as he ruled as the Prime Minister in Duties of the Head of State until 1937.

Heads of State of the Republic of Estonia, 1920–1934[edit]

Portrait Name Term of Office Political Party Cabinet Riigikogu
(Election)
Separate
Head of State
Took Office Left Office Days
The 1920 Constitution replaced the office of Prime Minister.
Ants Piip.jpg Ants Piip
(1884–1942)
1st State Elder
20 December 1920 25 January 1921 37 Labour Party
(ETE)
Piip
ETE
I
(1920)
None
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
2nd State Elder
(2nd term, 1st as State Elder)
25 January 1921 21 November 1922 666 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
Päts I
PK–ETE–ER–KRE
PK–ER–KRE
Juhan Kukk.jpg Juhan Kukk
(1885–1942)
3rd State Elder
21 November 1922 2 August 1923 255 Labour Party
(ETE)
Kukk
ETE–PK–ER
ETE–PK–ER–ESDTP
ETE–PK–ESDTP
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
4th State Elder
(3rd term, 2nd as State Elder)
2 August 1923 26 March 1924 238 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
Päts II
PK–KRE–ER–ETE
PK–KRE–ER
II
(1923)
Friedrich Akel.jpg Friedrich Karl Akel
(1871–1941)
5th State Elder
26 March 1924 16 December 1924 266 Christian People's Party
(KRE)
Akel
KRE–ETE–ER
JüriJaakson.jpg Jüri Jaakson
(1870–1942)
6th State Elder
16 December 1924 15 December 1925 365 People's Party
(ER)
Jaakson
ER–PK–ESDTPETE–KRE
Jaan Teemant.jpg Jaan Teemant
(1872-1941?)
7th State Elder
15 December 1925 9 December 1927 725 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
Teemant I
PK–ETE–KRE–ARVK
PK–ETE–KRE–ARVK–RVP
Teemant II
PK–ARVK–KRE–ER–ÜMSL
III
(1926)
Teemant III
PK–ARVK–ER–KRE–ÜMSL
Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
(1868-1941?)
8th State Elder
(3rd term, 1st as State Elder)
9 December 1927 4 December 1928 362 People's Party
(ER)
Tõnisson III
ER–PK–ARVK–ETE
August Rei
(1886–1963)
9th State Elder
4 December 1928 9 July 1929 218 Socialist Workers' Party
(ESTP)
Rei
ESTP–ARVK–ETE–KRE
Otto August Strandman
(1875–1941)
10th State Elder
(2nd term, 1st as State Elder)
9 July 1929 12 February 1931 584 Labour Party
(ETE)
Strandman II
ETE–ARVK–PK–KRE–ER
IV
(1929)
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
11th State Elder
(4th term, 3rd as State Elder)
12 February 1931 19 February 1932 373 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
Päts III
PK–ER–ESTP
Jaan Teemant.jpg Jaan Teemant
(1872-1941?)
12th State Elder
(2nd term, 2nd as State Elder)
19 February 1932 19 July 1932 152 Farmers' Assemblies and
Association of Settlers
(PK/ARVK)
Teemant IV
PK/ARVK–RKE
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-09721, Karl Einbund.jpg Karl August Einbund
(later Kaarel Eenpalu)
(1888–1942)
13th State Elder
19 July 1932 1 November 1932 106 Farmers' Assemblies and
Association of Settlers
(PK/ARVK)
Einbund I
PK/ARVK–RKE
V
(1932)
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
14th State Elder
(5th term, 4th as State Elder)
1 November 1932 18 May 1933 199 Farmers' Assemblies and
Association of Settlers
(PK/ARVK)
Päts IV
PK/ARVK–RKE–ESTP
Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
(1868-1941?)
15th State Elder
(4th term, 2nd as State Elder)
18 May 1933 21 October 1933 157 National Centre Party
(RKE)
Tõnisson IV
RKE–ARVK
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
16th State Elder
(6th term, 5th as State Elder)
21 October 1933 24 January 1934 96 Farmers' Assemblies and
Association of Settlers
(PK/ARVK)
Päts V
non-party coalition
The 1934 Constitution divided the office of State Elder between a new office called State Elder and a Prime Minister.

Head of State of the Republic of Estonia, 1934–1937[edit]

Portrait Name Term of Office Political Party Cabinet Riigikogu
(Election)
Separate
Head of Government
Took Office Left Office Days
The 1934 Constitution divided the office of State Elder between a new office called State Elder and a Prime Minister.
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
6th Prime Minister
(in duties of the State Elder)
(6th term)
24 January 1934 3 September 1937 1,319 Farmers' Assemblies and
Association of Settlers
(PK/ARVK)
[Note 1]
Päts V
non-party coalition
V
(1932)
Prime Minister
in duties of
the State Elder

Konstantin
Päts
Fatherland Union
(I)

[Note 2]
Parliament
disbanded

[Note 3]
The Amendment Act of the 1938 Constitution temporarily merged the offices of State Elder and Prime Minister into President-Regent.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ All political parties were banned on 20 March 1935.
  2. ^ The Fatherland Union was the only sanctioned political organization, but cannot be considered a political party per se.
  3. ^ The "Era of Silence" began on with Päts' self-coup on 21 March 1934. The Riigikogu approved of the coup retroactively on 15 March 1934. The Riigikogu was thereafter not convened after 2 October 1934. It was officially disbanded on 1 October 1938.