List of heads of government of Estonia

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This is a list of people, who have been heads of government of the Republic of Estonia from 1918, either as a Chairman of the Council of Elders (1918), Prime Minister (1918-1920; 1934-1940 and from 1990), State Elder (1920–1934) or President-Regent (1937–1938). The office of Prime Minister (Peaminister) first came into use soon after Estonia gained its independence in 1918. From 1918 to 1934, Estonia used a parliamentary political system, where the presidency and ministry were subject to parliamentary confidence, but instead of a presidential office, the government was headed by a Prime Minister and from 1920 to 1934, a similar office called State Elder (Riigivanem).

The 1934 constitution gave the State Elder the role of the president, with a separate head of government created, restoring the office of Prime Minister. The new system was obstructed by a 1934 coup d'état by head of government Konstantin Päts. During his authoritarian era (1934–1937), he ruled as both Prime Minister and State Elder. The latter office was entrusted to him briefly until the presidential elections. In 1937, the two offices were combined into the office of President-Regent (Riigihoidja), but the situation was again changed with the 1938 constitution, when Konstantin Päts gave up the office of Prime Minister to a new officeholder.

The Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940 made Johannes Vares the new Prime Minister of Estonia, but his rule was later declared to have been illegal. According to the 1938 constitution, Prime Minister was to lead the presidency in case the President couldn't be elected, a move that was implemented for the Estonian Government in Exile. The interim government restored the office of Prime Minister in 1990.

List of heads of government[edit]

Portrait Name Term of Office Political Party Cabinet Riigikogu
(Election)
Separate
Head of State
Took Office Left Office Days
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
of the Provisional Government
24 February 1918 12 November 1918 440 Country People's Union
(EMRL)
Päts I Provisional
EMRLETEEDEESDTP
Provisional
Provincial
Assembly
(1917)
None
Prime Minister
of the Provisional Government
12 November 1918 27 November 1918 Päts II Provisional
EMRLETEEDE
EMRLETEEDEESDTP
[Note 1]
27 November 1918 9 May 1919 Päts III Provisional
EMRLETEEDEESDTP
EMRLETEEDEESDTPSEE
EMRLETEEDEESDTPSEEVKK
EMRLETEEREESDTPSEEVKK

[Note 2]
Declaration of Independence by the Estonian Salvation Committee of the Council of Elders of the Estonian Provincial Assembly (24.02), effective in Tallinn and a few other places. Appointment of the Estonian Provisional Government (24.02), followed by German occupation (25.02–11.11). Disappearance (28.03) and likely execution (2.05) of Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Courts Jüri Vilms in Finland. British (3.05), French (13.05) and Italian (29.05) provisional de facto recognition of the underground Estonian Provisional Government. Imprisonment of Päts in German-occupied Estonia, Latvia and Belarus (11.06–17.11). Underground activity headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs and acting Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers Jaan Poska (from 11.06). German handing over of de facto power to the Estonian Provisional Government (11.–14.11). Founding of the Defence League (11.11).

Appointment of Päts II Provisional Government cabinet with renewed ministerial portfolios (12.11), provisionally headed by Deputy Prime Minister Jaan Poska. Founding of the Defence Forces (12.11). German provisional de facto recognition of Estonian independence (19.11) and handing over of de jure power to the Estonian Provisional Government (19.–21.11). Return of Päts from imprisonment in German-occupied Belarus (20.11).

Appointment of Päts III Provisional Government cabinet with renewed ministerial portfolios (27.11). The Provisional Provincial Assembly temporarily delegated legislative power to the Provisional Government (27.11). Russian SFSR invasion of Estonia and beginning of the Estonian War of Independence (28.11). Dual power with the Commune of the Working People of Estonia (29.11.1918–31.01.1919). Delivery of first foreign loan of 10 million Finnish markka from Finland (10.12). British naval (from 12.12) and Finnish (from 30.12), Swedish (from 13.02.1919) and Danish voluntary assistance (from 4.04) in the war. Successful Estonian counteroffensive (from 7.01). Annexation of Ruhnu Island into Estonia (17.01). Liberation of Estonian territory (by 31.01). Suppression of an anti-war revolt in Saaremaa (16.–21.02). Alliance treaty with Latvia (18.02). Loss of power to left-wing parties at the 1919 elections (5.–7.04). Resigned after the convening of the Estonian Constituent Assembly (23.04).

1 Otto August Strandman
(1875–1941)
1st Prime Minister
9 May 1919 18 November 1919 194 Labour Party
(ETE)
Strandman I
ETEESDTPERE
ETEESDTP
[Note 3]
Constituent
Assembly
(1919)
First cabinet appointed after elections in independent Estonia. War against the Baltische Landeswehr (5.06–3.07). Adoption of the temporary regime of government (4.07). The Estonian People's Party (ERE) left the coalition (20.09) due to opposition to the radical Rent Act and Land Act bills. Adoption of the radical land reform confiscating and redistributing the mostly Baltic German estates (10.10). Disarmament of White movement forces in Estonia (from 11.11). Resigned without explanation (11.11) after failure to renew the coalition.
2 Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
(1868–1941?)
2nd Prime Minister
18 November 1919 28 July 1920 254 People's Party
(ERE)
Tõnisson I
EREETEESDTP
EREETE–(ESDTP)
[Note 4]
Peace talks with the Russian SFSR (from 5.12). Tensions with Latvia due to a border dispute (24.12.1919–22.03.1920). Signing (31.12.1919) and implementation (3.01.1920) of an armistice with the Russian SFSR. Signing (2.02) and ratification (13.02) of the Tartu Peace Treaty, ending the War of Independence and mutually first recognition of the independence of Estonia and the Russian SFSR. Finnish recognition of Estonian independence (7.06). Adoption of the Abolition of Nobility Act (9.06). Adoption of the first constitution (15.06). The Estonian Social Democratic Workers' Party (ESDTP) left the coalition (1.07) due to the government's "bourgeois" politics, while its ministers remained in office. Establishment of the Estonian-Latvian border (1.–3.07). Resigned after failing to replace ESDTP as a coalition partner.
3 Ado Birk
(1883–1942)
3rd Prime Minister
28 July 1920 30 July 1920 3 People's Party
(ERE)
Birk
EREETEKRE
Minority government which resigned on the same day and never took office, but was not immediately replaced by the Riigikogu. Previous Prime Minister Jaan Tõnisson was nominated acting Prime Minister (29.07) and was voted into office the next day. Birk cabinet remains the shortest in Estonian history.
4 Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
(1868–1941?)
4th Prime Minister
(2nd term)
30 July 1920 26 October 1920 89 People's Party
(ERE)
Tõnisson II
ERE
5 Ants Piip
(1884–1942)
5th Prime Minister
26 October 1920 20 December 1920 92 Labour Party
(ETE)
Piip
ETE
1st State Elder 20 December 1920 25 January 1921
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
2nd State Elder
(2nd term)
25 January 1921 21 November 1922 666 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
Päts I
PKETEEREKRE
PK(ETE)EREKRE
PKEREKRE

[Note 5]

I
(1920)
Juhan Kukk
(1885–1942)
3rd State Elder
21 November 1922 2 August 1923 255 Labour Party
(ETE)
Kukk
ETEPKERE
ETEPK–(ERE)
[Note 6]
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
4th State Elder
(3rd term)
2 August 1923 26 March 1924 238 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
Päts II
PKKREEREETE
PKKREERE(ETE)
PKKREERE
[Note 7]
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
KREETEERE
Jüri Jaakson
(1870–1942)
6th State Elder
16 December 1924 15 December 1925 365 People's Party
(ERE)
Jaakson
EREPKESDTPETEKRE
EREPKESTPETEKRE
[Note 8]
Jaan Teemant
(1872–1941?)
7th State Elder
15 December 1925 23 July 1926 725 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
Teemant I
PKETEKREARVK
PKETEKREARVKRVP
[Note 9]
23 July 1926 4 March 1927 Teemant II
PKARVKKREEREÜMSL
III
(1926)
4 March 1927 9 December 1927 Teemant III
PKARVKEREKREÜMSL
Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
(1868–1941?)
8th State Elder
(3rd term)
9 December 1927 4 December 1928 362 People's Party
(ERE)
Tõnisson III
EREPKARVKETE
August Rei
(1886–1963)
9th State Elder
4 December 1928 9 July 1929 218 Socialist Workers' Party
(ESTP)
Rei
ESTPARVKETEKRE
Otto August Strandman
(1875–1941)
10th State Elder
(2nd term)
9 July 1929 12 February 1931 584 Labour Party
(ETE)
Strandman II
ETEARVKPKKREERE
IV
(1929)
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
11th State Elder
(4th term)
12 February 1931 19 February 1932 373 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
Päts III
PKEREESTP
PKERE/(KRE)–ESTP
PK/(PAVK)–ERE/(KRE)–ESTP
PK/(PAVK)–RKEESTP
[Note 10]
Jaan Teemant
(1872–1941?)
12th State Elder
(2nd term)
19 February 1932 19 July 1932 152 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
Teemant IV
PK/PAVKRKE
ÜPERKE
[Note 11]
United Farmers' Party
(ÜPE)
Karl August Einbund
(later Kaarel Eenpalu)
(1888–1942)
13th State Elder
19 July 1932 1 November 1932 106 United Farmers' Party
(ÜPE)
Einbund I
ÜPERKE
[Note 12]
V
(1932)
Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
14th State Elder
(5th term)
1 November 1932 18 May 1933 199 United Farmers' Party
(ÜPE)
Päts IV
ÜPERKEESTP
Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
(1868–1941?)
15th State Elder
(4th term)
18 May 1933 21 October 1933 157 National Centre Party
(RKE)
Tõnisson IV
RKEÜPE
6 Konstantin Päts.jpg Konstantin Päts
(1874–1956)
16th State Elder
21 October 1933 24 January 1934 1,647 Farmers' Assemblies
(PK)
[Note 13]
Päts V
non-party coalition
[Note 14]
6th Prime Minister
(in duties of the State Elder)
24 January 1934 3 September 1937 Prime Minister
in duties of
the State Elder

Konstantin
Päts
None
[Note 15]
Parliament
disbanded

[Note 16]
President-Regent
(6th term)
3 September 1937 24 April 1938 None
7 Kaarel Eenpalu
(formerly Karl August Einbund)
(1888–1942)
Acting Prime Minister
24 April 1938 9 May 1938 537 None
[Note 15]
Päts V
(continued)
non-party coalition
[Note 14]
President
Konstantin
Päts

(1938–1940)
7th Prime Minister
(2nd term)
9 May 1938 12 October 1939 Eenpalu II
non-party coalition
[Note 12]
VI
(1938)
8 Jüri Uluots.jpg Jüri Uluots
(1890–1945)
8th Prime Minister
12 October 1939 21 June 1940
[Note 17]
254 None
[Note 15]
Uluots
non-party coalition
1st Soviet Occupation (1940–1941)
German Occupation (1941–1944)
Otto Tief
(1889–1976)
Acting Prime Minister
18 September 1944
[Note 18]
25 September 1944
[Note 19]
8 None Tief
non-party coalition
Parliament
disbanded
Prime Minister
in duties of
the President

Jüri Uluots
[Note 20]
2nd Soviet Occupation (1944–1991)
(See Estonian Government in Exile)
Edgar Savisaar 2005-crop.jpg Edgar Savisaar
(b. 1950)
1st Prime Minister
of the Interim Government
3 April 1990
[Note 21]
29 January 1992 668 Popular Front of Estonia
(ERR)
[Note 22]
Estonian People's Centre Party
(ERKE)
Savisaar Interim
various coalition partners
Supreme
Soviet
(1990)

[Note 23]
Chairman of the
Supreme Soviet
Chairman of the
Supreme Council

Arnold Rüütel
[Note 23]
Tiit Vähi teisel Arvamusfestivalil Narvas.jpg Tiit Vähi
(b. 1947)
2nd Prime Minister
of the Interim Government
29 January 1992 21 October 1992 266 None Vähi Interim
various coalition partners
President
Lennart Georg Meri
(1992–2001)
[Note 24]
9 Mart Laar.png Mart Laar
(b. 1960)
9th Prime Minister
21 October 1992 8 November 1994 749 Pro Patria
(I)
[Note 25]

Pro Patria National Coalition Party
(RKEI)
Laar I

IMERSP
RKEIMERSP
RKEIMERSPELDP
RKEIMERSP
RKEIMERSPELDP
[Note 26]

VII
(1992)
10 Andres Tarand 12.4.2012.jpg Andres Tarand
(b. 1940)
10th Prime Minister
8 November 1994 17 April 1995 161 Moderates
(M)
[Note 26]
Tarand
MRKEIERSPELDPVKRE
[Note 26]
11 Tiit Vähi teisel Arvamusfestivalil Narvas.jpg Tiit Vähi
(b. 1947)
11th Prime Minister
(2nd term)
17 April 1995 6 November 1995 701 Coalition Party and
Country People's Alliance

(KMÜ)
Vähi I
KMÜEKE
VIII
(1995)
6 November 1995 17 March 1997 Vähi II
KMÜERE
KMÜ–AP
12 Siimann Mart.IMG 2960.JPG Mart Siimann
(b. 1946)
12th Prime Minister
17 March 1997 25 March 1999 739 Coalition Party and
Country People's Alliance

(KMÜ)
Siimann
KMÜ–AP
13 Mart Laar.png Mart Laar
(b. 1960)
13th Prime Minister
(2nd term)
25 March 1999 28 January 2002 1,041 Pro Patria Union
(IL)
Laar II
ILRMERE
IX
(1999)
President
Arnold Rüütel
(2001–2006)
[Note 24]
14 Kallas Siim.IMG 3350.JPG Siim Kallas
(b. 1948)
14th Prime Minister
28 January 2002 10 April 2003 438 Reform Party
(ERE)
Kallas
EREEKE
15 Juhan-Parts.jpg Juhan Parts
(b. 1966)
15th Prime Minister
10 April 2003 12 April 2005 735 Res Publica Party
(RP)
Parts
RPEREERL
X
(2003)
16 Portrait Andrus Ansip.jpg Andrus Ansip
(b. 1956)
16th Prime Minister
12 April 2005 5 April 2007 3,271 Reform Party
(ERE)
Ansip I
EREEKEERL
President
Toomas Hendrik Ilves
(2006–2016)
[Note 24]
5 April 2007 6 April 2011 Ansip II
EREIRLSDE
EREIRL
XI
(2007)
6 April 2011 26 March 2014 Ansip III
EREIRL
XII
(2011)
17 RE Taavi Rõivas.jpg Taavi Rõivas
(b. 1979)
17th Prime Minister
26 March 2014 9 April 2015 973 Reform Party
(ERE)
Rõivas I
ERESDE
9 April 2015 23 November 2016 Rõivas II
ERESDEIRL
XIII
(2015)
President
Kersti Kaljulaid
(2016–incumbent)
18 KE Jüri Ratas.jpg Jüri Ratas
(b. 1978)
18th Prime Minister
23 November 2016 29 April 2019 1000 Centre Party
(EKE)
Ratas I
EKESDEIRL
EKESDEI
[Note 27]
29 April 2019 Incumbent Ratas II
EKEEKREI
XIV
(2019)

Statistics[edit]

Time in office[edit]

A total of 23 people have headed the Government of Estonia, 15 before and 8 after the Soviet occupation. Konstantin Päts headed the government for the longest, a total of 3,563 days during six different terms (2,059 days without his authoritarian era). Andrus Ansip is the second longest office holder, having been democratically in office longer than Päts.

The shortest time in office was for Ado Birk, when he served as Prime Minister for only 3 days and never actually stepping into office. Acting Prime Minister Otto Tief was in office for 8 days between the German and Soviet occupations in 1944. Ants Piip, August Rei, Jüri Uluots, Juhan Kukk, Friedrich Karl Akel and Jüri Jaakson were also in office for less than a year.

Number and length of terms[edit]

Konstantin Päts served a total of six terms, although his sixth term turned into an authoritarian regime. Jaan Tõnisson was in office four times, although there was just one full day of Ado Birk's cabinet between his first two terms. Otto August Strandman, Jaan Teemant, Karl August Einbund (named Kaarel Eenpalu during his second term in the semi-authoritarian era), Tiit Vähi (first term during the interim period) and Mart Laar all served two terms in office.

Longest average term lengths are all in the reindependence period with Andrus Ansip in the lead (3,271 days), Mart Laar second (895 days) and Mart Siimann third (739 days). Longest interwar average term is held by Konstantin Päts (594 days). During the interwar democratic era however, longest average term was achieved by Jaan Teemant (439 days), followed by Otto August Strandman (389 days) and by Konstantin Päts himself (383 days).

The era before occupation had the shortest average term lengths with the two extremes of Ado Birk (3 days) and Otto Tief (8 days), but also Ants Piip with 92 days. Jaan Tõnisson also had an average term length of only 216 days. Andres Tarand (with 161 days) and Siim Kallas (with 438 days) have the shortest average term lengths during the reindependence era.

Age at assuming office[edit]

Mart Laar was only 32 years old when he became Prime Minister in 1992. Ado Birk, Ants Piip, Juhan Kukk, Taavi Rõivas, Edgar Savisaar, Mart Laar (2nd term in 1999) and Juhan Parts were also in their 30s when appointed. Jaan Tõnisson was 64 when stepping into office in 1933. The rest were in their 40s or 50s when assuming office, average age at appointment is 48.

Jüri RatasTaavi RõivasAndrus AnsipJuhan PartsSiim KallasMart LaarMart SiimannTiit VähiAndres TarandMart LaarTiit VähiEdgar SavisaarOtto TiefJüri UluotsKaarel EenpaluKonstantin PätsJaan TõnissonKonstantin PätsKarl EinbundJaan TeemantKonstantin PätsOtto StrandmanAugust ReiJaan TõnissonJaan TeemantJüri JaaksonFriedrich AkelKonstantin PätsJuhan KukkKonstantin PätsAnts PiipJaan TõnissonAdo BirkJaan TõnissonOtto StrandmanKonstantin Päts

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Estonian Social Democratic Workers' Party (ESDTP) joined the coalition on 16 November 1918.
  2. ^ The German Party in Estonia (SEE) joined the coalition on 28 November 1918. The Russian Citizens' Assembly (VKK) joined the coalition on 28 February 1919. The Estonian Democratic Party (EDE) merged with the Estonian Radical Democratic Party (ERDE) to form the Estonian People's Party (ERE) on 1 March 1919 and the new party remained in the government.
  3. ^ The Estonian People's Party (ERE) left the coalition on 20 September 1919.
  4. ^ Estonian Social Democratic Workers' Party (ESDTP) left the coalition on 1 July 1920, but its ministers remained in office.
  5. ^ The Estonian Labour Party (ETE) left the coalition on 13 October 1921. Its ministers resigned on 20 October 1921.
  6. ^ The Minister of Internal Affairs Karl August Einbund, the only representative of the Estonian People's Party (ERE) in the coalition, left the party on 5 March 1923. His former party decided to remain in the coalition without any ministerial positions.
  7. ^ The Estonian Labour Party (ETE) left the coalition on 14 February 1924. Its ministers remained in office until 19 February 1924.
  8. ^ The Estonian Social Democratic Workers' Party (ESDTP) merged with the Independent Socialist Workers' Party (ISTP) and formed the Estonian Socialist Workers' Party (ESTP) on 9 April 1925 and the new party remained in the government.
  9. ^ The National Liberal Party (RVP) joined the coalition on 12 January 1926.
  10. ^ The parliamentary group of the Estonian People's Party (ERE) merged with the parliamentary group of the Christian People's Party (KRE) on 28 October 1931 and the parliamentary group of the Farmers' Assemblies (PK) with the parliamentary group of the Settlers', State Tenants' and Smallholders' Group (PAVK) on 26 January 1932, with both party coalitions remaining in the government. The Estonian People's Party (ERE) and the Christian People's Party (KRE), already in a party coalition, merged with the Estonian Labour Party (ETE) and formed the National Centre Party (RKE) on 29 January 1932. The party remained in the government.
  11. ^ The Farmers' Assemblies (PK) and the Settlers', State Tenants' and Smallholders' Group (PAVK), already in a party coalition, merged and formed the United Farmers' Party (ÜPE) on 29 February 1932. The new party remained in the coalition.
  12. ^ a b As Karl August Einbund Estonianized his name into Kaarel Eenpalu, his two cabinets are therefore known as Einbund I and Eenpalu II cabinets.
  13. ^ All political parties were banned on 20 March 1935.
  14. ^ a b Although Konstantin Päts resigned as President-Regent on 24 April 1938 to become the President on the same day, his cabinet remained temporarily in office until 9 May 1938, headed by acting Prime Minister Kaarel Eenpalu.
  15. ^ a b c Was member of the Patriotic League which was the only sanctioned political organization, but which cannot be considered a political party per se.
  16. ^ The "Era of Silence" began with Konstantin Päts' self-coup on 12 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 January 1938.
  17. ^ The Soviet Union occupied Estonia on 17 June 1940. The Soviet regime staged a pro-Soviet coup d'état on 21 June 1940, replacing the Jüri Uluots cabinet with that of Johannes Vares. The Republic of Estonia does not consider the Johannes Vares cabinet a legal government of Estonia and considers the Jüri Uluots cabinet to have legally remained in office until 18 September 1944.
  18. ^ Prime Minister in the duties of the President Jüri Uluots appointed a new government after the departure of German forces, hoping to restore Estonian independence before the arrival of Soviet forces.
  19. ^ The Soviet Union occupied Estonia on 17 June 1940. The Soviet regime staged a pro-Soviet coup d'état on 21 June 1940, replacing the Jüri Uluots cabinet with that of Johannes Vares. The Republic of Estonia does not consider the Johannes Vares cabinet a legal government of Estonia and considers the Jüri Uluots cabinet to have legally remained in office until 18 September 1944.
  20. ^ The legal Prime Minister Jüri Uluots assumed the role of Prime Minister in the duties of the President on 18 September 1944, after the departure of German forces and before the arrival of Soviet forces.
  21. ^ The Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR on 30 March 1990 declared Soviet rule to have been illegal since 1940 and declared a transition period for full independence. Full independence was restored on 20 August 1991.
  22. ^ The Popular Front of Estonia formed the Estonian People's Centre Party on 12 October 1991.
  23. ^ a b The "Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic" was renamed the "Republic of Estonia" on 8 May 1990 and thus the translation of the "Supreme Soviet" was changed to "Supreme Council".
  24. ^ a b c President left the party upon assuming office.
  25. ^ The electoral alliance "Pro Patria" formed the Pro Patria National Coalition Party on 21 November 1992.
  26. ^ a b c The electoral alliance "Moderates" (M) consisted of the Social Democratic Party (ESDP) and the Estonian Rural Centre Party (EMKE).
  27. ^ The Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica was renamed Party Pro Patria on 2 June 2018.