Estonia is a parliamentary democracy, whose
president is elected by Parliament. The policy has long
been characterized by party fragmentation but has
stabilized during the 2000s. The center-left Center
Party and the Liberal Reform Party have long been the
dominant parties and rotated in power.
The current constitution is a revised version of the
1938 Constitution, which was repealed by the Soviet
Union in 1940 but was withdrawn following a referendum
in 1992 - one year after independence from the Soviet
Total population and chart of Estonia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The current Republic of Estonia is, in the legal
sense, a restoration of the First Republic. Independence
is not considered to have been interrupted, since Soviet
rule in Estonia is considered illegal.
Estonia is a republic governed by a directly elected
parliament (riigikogu), with 101
members. A party must get at least five percent of the
vote in an election to get into parliament.
The President shall be elected by Parliament for a
term of five years and may be re-elected. If Parliament
fails to elect a President, the process proceeds to a
College of Elections made up of Members of Parliament
and local representatives.
The president is the head of state and supreme
commander of the defense forces. The president proposes
a head of government (prime minister), which must be
approved by Parliament and who in turn appoints other
ministers in the government.
Estonian citizens (see Population and languages) who
are 18 years of age have the right to vote in Parliament
and since 2015 the minimum age for local elections is 16
years. Anyone who is not a citizen but a permanent
resident of the country may vote in local elections.
Administration and the judiciary
Estonia has traditionally been divided into counties
(makond) with municipalities (elected).
In 2017, a merger was carried out with the aim of
reducing the number of municipalities from 231 to 34.
All municipalities must have at least 5,000 residents.
The government's intention is then to abolish the county
The Constitution guarantees an independent judicial
system with three bodies, the highest being the Supreme
After independence in 1991, domestic politics was
characterized by party fragmentation. However, the five
per cent limit to Parliament has forced smaller parties
to electoral cooperation. Voter sympathies have
fluctuated sharply, parties have come and gone, and
coalition governments have often been unstable.
There are no clear right and left blocks as in
Sweden. Almost all governments have had market economy
growth, privatization and EU membership as the main
target. After Estonia's accession to the EU in 2004,
domestic policy stabilized somewhat.
The Liberian Estonian Reform Party (Eesti
Reformierakond) and the Conservative
Confederation (Isamaaliit / Pro Patria) - long
led by Mart Laar - have been driving the country's
economic liberalization and accession to the EU. The
Reform Party has ruled with almost all parties in
Parliament. Its voters are relatively young, almost all
of whom are Estonian speakers and usually Estonian
nationalists. The party was led from its founding in
1994 to 2004 by Siim Kallas, who then made a career in
the European Commission.
The Estonians rejected the type of post-communist
party that had great influence in, for example,
Lithuania. Defenders of low-income earners and poor
pensioners, the Estonian Center Party (Eesti
Keskerakond) was formed in 1991 by former People's Front
leader Edgar Savisaar. Despite the name, the party is
left-wing and wants to strengthen the rights of the
Russian minority. The Center Party is supported by many
Russian-speaking voters and has had great success in
local elections, where non-citizens are also allowed to
vote. But more and more stateless residents are seeking
Estonian citizenship and are also entitled to vote in
parliamentary elections. After a long time in
opposition, the Center Party returned as the leading
government party in 2016.
In 2006, the Confederation of the
Confederation and the relatively new party
Res Publica together formed the
Confederation of the Fosterland and Res Publica
(Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit, IRL) also called Isamaa.
The party stands for a conservative and nationalist
policy and it co-operated with the Reform Party from
2007 until autumn 2016. Then, Isamaa instead formed a
coalition with the Center Party and the Social
Democrats. After the 2019 elections, Isamaa and the
Center Party continued government cooperation, but now
also the right-wing populist Ekre (see below) was
included in the coalition.
The Social Democratic Party (Sotsiaaldemokraatlik
Erakond, formerly the Moderates) arose
through a merger of center-left groups. The small
Russian party joined the Social
Democrats in 2012. The party's support from
Russian-speaking voters has grown in recent years.
The Estonian People's Union used to
play an important role as a rural party. Since the party
lost influence, in 2012 it merged with Estonia's
national movement and formed Estonia's
Conservative People's Party (Eesti
Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond). In foreign media
reporting, the abbreviation Ekre is often used. The
party is against immigration and critical of the EU, and
in recent years it has received stronger support in the
President Ilves re-elected by a good margin
Parliament elects Toomas Hendrik Ilves as president for another five years.
For the first time, a president with a two-thirds majority is already elected in
the first round of elections.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip's Liberal Reform Party wins the parliamentary
election with 28.6 percent of the vote. The party, together with its coalition
partner, the right-wing Alliance IRL, gains a majority in parliament and can
continue to rule. The Social Democrats in opposition almost double their
Exchange of currency
Estonia switches to the euro as the first former Soviet republic.