The legislative bodies of the Republic of Estonia
The independence of the Republic of Estonia was proclaimed on February 24, 1918, in Tallinn. The Provisional Government of the Republic of Estonia was formed. This was followed by the German occupation. In November 1918 the War of Independence against the Soviet Russia broke out. The peace treaty with Russia was concluded on February 2, 1920.
The first general elections in the Republic of Estonia took place on April 5-7, 1919, when the people elected the Constituent Assembly. The principal task of the Constituent Assembly was to draft and adopt the Constitution.
According to the Constitution of 1920, the supreme body of the Republic of Estonia was parliament, the Riigikogu. The Riigikogu was one-chambered and consisted of 100 members elected for a term of three years. Elections were to be organized on a population basis with the participation of elective citizens. The members of the Riigikogu were to be elected by universal, uniform, direct, and secret voting.
The I Riigikogu was elected in November 1920. The political parties with the largest representation in the I Riigikogu were the Labour Party (22 seats), the Assemblies of Farmers (21), the Estonian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (18).
The II Riigikogu was elected in May 1923. The political parties with the largest representation in the II Riigikogu were the Assemblies of Farmers (23), the Estonian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (15), and the Labour Party (12).
The III Riigikogu was elected in May 1926. The political parties with the largest representation in the III Riigikogu were the Estonian Socialist Workers' Party (24), the Assemblies of Farmers (23), and the Union of Settlers, State Tenants and Small Farmers (14).
The IV Riigikogu was elected in May 1929. The political parties with the largest representation in the IV Riigikogu were the Estonian Socialist Workers' Party (25), the Assemblies of Farmers (24), and the Union of Settlers, State Tenants and Small Farmers (14).
The V Riigikogu was elected in May 1932. The political parties with the largest representation in the V Riigikogu were the Alliance of the Assemblies of Farmers and the Union of Farmers, Settlers and Small Farmers (42), the National Centre Party (23), and the Estonian Socialist Workers' Party (22).
In 1933, a draft constitution was approved on a referendum. In March 1934, a state of defence was declared, the work of the Riigikogu was adjourned and the so-called silent era began.
On October 2, 1934, the Government of the Republic once again adjourned the session of the Riigikogu, and the V Riigikogu was not called any more.
On March 5, 1935, any activities of political parties were prohibited.
In February 1937, the National Assembly was convened, and on July 28 of the same year it adopted a new Constitution.
On the basis of the new Constitution, in February 1938 the VI Riigikogu was elected. The VI Riigikogu had two chambers: Riigivolikogu and Riiginõukogu. The 80 members of the Riigivolikogu were elected on the principle of majority.
On June 17, 1940, the Republic of Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union.
In 1941, Estonia was occupied by Germany, and in 1944, again by the Soviet Union.
Immediately before the beginning of the Soviet occupation, in September 1944, a nationalist-minded Government of the Republic was formed. The Government was based on the Constitution, and its political basis consisted mainly of the political forces which had been active in the V and VI Riigikogu. Those Members of that Government who did not manage to flee from Estonia before the entry of the Red Army were imprisoned by the invaders.
The Soviet occupation that followed the war lasted for 47 years. During that time period, elections to the Supreme Council (Supreme Soviet) were regularly held, however, those elections were emptied of all democratic content.
The election to the Supreme Council of Estonia in 1990 took place in a new atmosphere. The previous Supreme Council had adopted several resolutions and laws that paved way for an independent state. It can be said that the Supreme Council of 1990 was elected on a democratic basis.