Prime Minister of Estonia

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Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia
Eesti Vabariigi peaminister
Coat of arms of Estonia.svg
Taavi Rõivas.jpg
Taavi Rõivas

since 26 March 2014
Residence Stenbock House, Tallinn
Appointer President of Estonia
Term length General elections to the Riigikogu are held every four years at most. The Prime Minister is by convention the leader of the victorious party. No term limits are imposed on the office.
Inaugural holder Konstantin Päts
Formation 24 February 1918
Coat of arms of Estonia.svg
This article is part of a series on the
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The Prime Minister of Estonia (Estonian: Eesti Vabariigi peaminister, literally translated as Head Minister of Estonia) is the head of government of the Republic of Estonia. The prime minister is nominated by the President after appropriate consultations with the parliamentary factions and confirmed by the Parliament. In case of disagreement, the Parliament can reject the President's nomination and choose their own candidate. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the ruling coalition. The current Prime Minister is Taavi Rõivas of the Reform Party.

In his role as appointed by the President and laid forth in the Constitution, the Prime Minister serves as the head of government. He does not head any specific ministry, but is, in accordance with the constitution, the supervisor of the work of the government. The Prime Minister’s significance and role in the government and his relations with other ministries often depend on the position of the party led by the prime minister in vis-à-vis the coalition partners, and on how much influence the prime minister possesses within his own party. If the prime minister has a strong position within his party, and the government is made up solely of representatives of that party, he can enjoy considerable authority. In all crucial national questions, however, the final word rests with Riigikogu as the legislative power.


Estonia was governed by a Prime Minister during the first two years (1918–1920) of its independence after the collapse of the Russian Empire.

Under Estonia's 1920 constitution, the head of government was called the State Elder (riigivanem), who was also head of state. This system was a radically parliamentary system because the State Elder could be dismissed by the Parliament with a simple majority. Moreover, the State Elder was not the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, nor could he ratify laws or dissolve Parliament. The dissolution of Parliament was only possible through a referendum (see, for example, Seppo Zetterberg, "A History of Estonia" / Viron historia. 3rd edition. Helsinki: The Finnish Literary Society / Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2007, pages 524–525). Under a new constitution passed by plebiscite in 1933, the position of Prime Minister was recreated as head of government in 1934 in a more presidential system. Under this constitution, the President could appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister and Cabinet, veto laws, give decrees (statutes) and dissolve Parliament (see Zetterberg 2007, pages 558–559). The sitting State Elder, Konstantin Päts, appointed himself to the position of Prime Minister and in this position was then able to suspend elections for Elder of State and for the Estonian Parliament. He remained Prime Minister, declaring himself "President-Regent", until 1938, when elections were held under a new constitution and he was elected President.

Prime Ministers of Estonia

1918 to 1920

# Name Took Office Left Office Party Coalition
1 Konstantin Päts 1 24 February 1918 26 November 1918 Rural League Non-party big coalition
26 November 1918 8 May 1919 Rural League Non-party big coalition
2 Otto August Strandman 8 May 1919 18 November 1919 Estonian Labour Party ESDTP+TE+RE
3 Jaan Tõnisson 18 November 1919 28 July 1920 Estonian People's Party ESDTP+TE+RE
4 Ado Birk 2 28 July 1920 30 July 1920 Estonian People's Party TE+RE+KRE
(3) Jaan Tõnisson (2nd time) 3 30 July 1920 26 October 1920 Estonian People's Party RE
5 Ants Piip4 26 October 1920 25 January 1921 Estonian Labour Party TE

The first two governments were Country Councils (Maapäeva or Maanõukogu valitsused); the next five were appointed by the directly-elected Constituent Assembly (Asutav Kogu).

1920 to 1934

The head of government was called the "State Elder" (Riigivanem). He was the head of the cabinet and was elected by parliament as well as depending on it. Thus he was closer to a PM, although he had some responsibilities of a president as well. A specific president did not exist; presidential functions were shared between the State Elder and the speaker of the parliament. A government could be, as in 1919–1920, and sometimes was, put into office by a simple majority vote with even less than an absolute majority, and could be removed in the same way.

# Name Took office Left office Party Coalition
1 Konstantin Päts 25 January 1921 21 November 1922 Farmers' Assemblies TE+PK+RE+KRE
2 Juhan Kukk 21 November 1922 2 August 1923 Estonian Labour Party TE+PK (+RE)
3 Konstantin Päts 2 August 1923 26 March 1924 Farmers' Assemblies PK+TE+RE+KRE
4 Friedrich Karl Akel 26 March 1924 16 December 1924 Christian People's Party TE+RE+KRE
5 Jüri Jaakson 16 December 1924 15 December 1925 Estonian People's Party PK+ESDTP+TE+RE+KRE
6 Jaan Teemant 15 December 1925 23 July 1926 Farmers' Assemblies PK+TE+KRE+AS+RVP
7 Jaan Teemant 23 July 1926 4 March 1927 Farmers' Assemblies PK+AS+RE+KRE+MAJA
8 Jaan Teemant 4 March 1927 9 December 1927 Farmers' Assemblies PK+AS+RE+KRE+MAJA
9 Jaan Tõnisson 9 December 1927 4 December 1928 Estonian People's Party PK+AS+TE+RE
10 August Rei 4 December 1928 9 July 1929 Estonian Socialist Workers' Party ESTP+AS+TE+KRE
11 Otto August Strandman 9 July 1929 12 February 1931 Estonian Labour Party PK+AS+TE+RE+KRE
12 Konstantin Päts 12 February 1931 19 February 1932 Farmers' Assemblies ESTP+PK+RE+MAJA
13 Jaan Teemant 19 February 1932 19 July 1932 Farmers' Assemblies PK+AS+TE+RE
14 Karl August Einbund 19 July 1932 1 November 1932 Union of Settlers and Smallholders ÜPE+RKE
15 Konstantin Päts 1 November 1932 18 May 1933 Union of Settlers and Smallholders Non-party
16 Jaan Tõnisson 18 May 1933 21 October 1933 National Centre Party RKE+AS (+ PK internal opposition)
17 Konstantin Päts 21 October 1933 24 January 1934 Non-party Non-party

Governments of:
1–2 – I Riigikogu
3–6 – II Riigikogu
7–10 – III Riigikogu
11–13 – IV Riigikogu
14–17 – V Riigikogu

State Elder, acting as Prime Minister (1934–1937)

Name Portrait Took Office Left Office Political Party
1 Konstantin Päts Konstantin Päts.jpg 24 January 1934 3 September 1937 Non-party

President-Regent (1937–1938)

Name Portrait Took Office Left Office Political Party
1 Konstantin Päts Konstantin Päts.jpg 3 September 1937 21 April 1938 Non-party

Prime Minister (1938–1944)

  Acting Prime Minister
Name Portrait Took Office Left Office Political Party
6 Kaarel Eenpalu 5 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-09721, Karl Einbund.jpg 21 April 1938 9 May 1938 Non-party
9 May 1938 12 October 1939
7 Jüri Uluots Jüri Uluots.jpg 12 October 1939 21 June 1940 Non-party
Estonia occupied by Soviet troops, June 1940.
8 Johannes Vares 6 Johannes Vares 1931.jpg 21 June 1940 25 August 1940 Estonian Communist Party
Estonia annexed by the USSR, August 1940.
Estonia invaded by Nazi German forces, July 1941.
Nazi German forces retreated from Estonia, September 1944.
Otto Tief (acting) Fond blanc.svg 18 September 1944 22 September 1944 Non-party (EVRK)
Estonia re-annexed by the USSR, September 1944.

Acting Prime Ministers of the Government in Exile (1944–1992)

Prime Minister (1991–present)

  Acting Prime Minister
Name Portrait Took Office Left Office Political Party Government Riigikogu
Edgar Savisaar (acting) Edgar Savisaar 2005.jpg 20 August 1991 29 January 1992 Popular Front of Estonia Savisaar SS (1990)
Tiit Vähi (acting) Fond blanc.svg 29 January 1992 21 October 1992 none Vähi I
9 Mart Laar Mart Laar.png 21 October 1992 8 November 1994 Pro Patria Union Laar I
7 (1992)
10 Andres Tarand Andres Tarand 12.4.2012.jpg 8 November 1994 17 April 1995 Moderate People's Party Tarand
11 Tiit Vähi Fond blanc.svg 17 April 1995 6 November 1995 Estonian Coalition Party Vähi II
8 (1995)
6 November 1995 17 March 1997 Vähi III
EK/EME, RE (until 1996)
12 Mart Siimann Siimann Mart.IMG 2960.JPG 17 March 1997 25 March 1999 Estonian Coalition Party Siimann
(9) Mart Laar Mart Laar.png 25 March 1999 28 January 2002 Pro Patria Union Laar II
9 (1999)
13 Siim Kallas Siim Kallas 3.JPG 28 January 2002 10 April 2003 Estonian Reform Party Kallas
14 Juhan Parts Juhan-Parts.jpg 10 April 2003 12 April 2005 Res Publica Parts
Res Publica, RE, ER
10 (2003)
15 Andrus Ansip Portrait Andrus Ansip.jpg 12 April 2005 5 April 2007 Estonian Reform Party Ansip I
5 April 2007 4 April 2011 Ansip II
RE, IRL, SDE (until 2009)
11 (2007)
6 April 2011 26 March 2014 Ansip III
12 (2011)
16 Taavi Rõivas RE Taavi Rõivas.jpg 26 March 2014 30 March 2015 Estonian Reform Party Rõivas I
9 April 2015 Incumbent Rõivas II
13 (2015)


  • ^1 Päts was imprisoned until 20 November 1918. From the time he was appointed to the post of Prime Minister until he was released, Jaan Poska assumed the duties of Prime Minister of his behalf.
  • ^2 Though appointed, Birk never assumed office.
  • ^3 Was acting Prime Minister from 29 to 30 July 1920.
  • ^4 State Elder since December.
  • ^5 Was acting Prime Minister from 21 April 1938 to 9 May 1938.
  • ^6 Appointment declared illegal by the Estonian Electoral College convened on 20 April 1944.

See also