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Politics of Estonia

On June 28, 1992, Estonian voters approved the constitutional assembly's draft constitution and implementation act, which established a parliamentary government with a president as chief of state and with a government headed by a prime minister.

The Riigikogu[?], a unicameral legislative body, is the highest organ of state authority. It initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the prime minister. The prime minister has full responsibility and control over his cabinet. Parliamentary and presidential elections were held on September 20, 1992. Approximately 68% of the country's 637,000 registered voters cast ballots. An outstanding writer and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lennart Meri, won on the first ballot and became president. He chose 32-year-old historian and Christian Democratic Party founder Mart Laar as prime minister.

In February 1992, and with amendments in January 1995, the Riigikogu renewed Estonia's liberal 1938 citizenship law, which also provides equal civil protection to resident aliens.

In 1996, Estonia ratified a border agreement with Latvia and completed work with Russia on a technical border agreement. President Meri was re-elected in free and fair indirect elections in August and September in 1996. During parliamentary elections in 1999, the seats in Riigikogu were divided as follows: the Center Party received 28, the Pro Patria Union 18, the Reform Party 18, the Moderates 17 seats. Pro Patria Union, the Reform Party, and the Moderates formed a government with Mart Laar as prime minister whereas the Center Party with the Coalition Party, People's Union, United People's Party, and Members of Parliament who were not members of factions formed the opposition in the Riigikogu.

In Fall 2001 Arnold Rüütel[?] became the President of the Republic of Estonia. In January 2002 Prime Minister Laar stepped down and President Ruutel appointed Siim Kallas the new prime minister. The Reform Party and the Center Party[?] formed a new coalition government in power January 28, 2002.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Estonia
conventional short form: Estonia
local long form: Eesti Vabariik
local short form: Eesti
former: Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic

Data code: EN

Government type: parliamentary democracy

Capital: Tallinn

Administrative divisions: 15 counties (maakonnad, singular - maakond): Harjumaa (Tallinn), Hiiumaa (Kardla), Ida-Virumaa (Johvi), Jarvamaa (Paide), Jogevamaa (Jogeva), Laanemaa (Haapsalu), Laane-Virumaa (Rakvere), Parnumaa (Parnu), Polvamaa (Polva), Raplamaa (Rapla), Saaremaa (Kuessaare), Tartumaa (Tartu), Valgamaa (Valga), Viljandimaa (Viljandi), Vorumaa (Voru)
note: counties have the administrative center name following in parentheses

Independence: 24 February 1918 (from Russia)
restored 20 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)

National holiday: Independence Day, 24 February (1918)

Constitution: adopted 28 June 1992

Legal system: based on civil law system; no judicial review of legislative acts

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal for all Estonian citizens

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Lennart MERI (since 5 October 1992)
head of government: Prime Minister Mart LAAR (since 29 March 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, approved by Parliament
elections: president elected by Parliament for a five-year term; if he or she does not secure two-thirds of the votes after three rounds of balloting, then an electoral assembly (made up of Parliament plus members of local governments) elects the president, choosing between the two candidates with the largest percentage of votes; election last held August-September 1996 (next to be held fall 2001); prime minister nominated by the president and approved by Parliament
election results: Lennart MERI reelected president by an electoral assembly after Parliament was unable to break a deadlock between MERI and RUUTEL; percent of electoral assembly vote - Lennart MERI 61%, Arnold RUUTEL 39%

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Riigikogu (101 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 7 March 1999 (next to be held NA March 2003)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Center Party 28, Union of Pro Patria (Fatherland League) 18, Reform Party 18, Moderates 17, Country People's Party (Agrarians) 7, Coalition Party 7, UPPE 6,

Judicial branch: National Court, chairman appointed by Parliament for life

Political parties and leaders: Center Party or K [Edgar SAVISAAR, chairman]; Coalition Party and Rural Union or KMU [Andrus OOVEL, chairman]; Country People's Party [Arnold RUUTEL]; Moderates or M [Andres TARAND]; Reform Party or RE [Siim KALLAS, chairman]; Union of Pro Patria or Fatherland League (Isamaaliit) [Mart LAAR, chairman]; United People's Party or UPPE [Viktor ANDREJEV, chairman]

International organization participation: BIS, CBSS, CCC, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNTSO, UPU, WEU (associate partner), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sven JURGENSON
chancery: 2131 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 588-0101
FAX: [1] (202) 588-0108
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Melissa WELLS
embassy: Kentmanni 20, Tallinn EE 0001
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [372] (6) 312-021
FAX: [372] (6) 312-025

Flag description: pre-1940 flag restored by Supreme Soviet in May 1990 - three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), black, and white

See also : Estonia



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