Estonian Provincial Assembly

Estonian Provincial Assembly

The Estonian Provincial Assembly (Estonian: Maapäev) [1]was elected after the February Revolution in 1917 as the national diet of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia in Russian Empire. On November 28, 1917, after the October Revolution the Assembly declared itself the sovereign power on Estonia and called for the elections of the Estonian Constituent Assembly. On the eve of the German occupation of Estonia in World War I the council elected the Estonian Salvation Committee and issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence on February 24, 1918.



On April 12, 1917 the Russian Provisional Government issued an order on the provisional autonomy of Estonia. The Governorate of Estonia, comprising what is now northern Estonia was merged with the Estophone northern part of the Governorate of Livonia, to form the autonomous governorate. The Russian Provisional Government decreed that a provincial assembly, colloquially known as the Maapäev, be created with members elected by indirect universal suffrage.

Elections for the 62 deputies of the diet were held in many stages; members representing the rural communities were elected in two-tiered elections in May-June, while the town representatives were elected in July-August, 1917. The election process saw the creation and reorganization of Estonian national parties.

Six parties were represented at the diet, with three independent deputies and two deputies representing the Baltic German and Swedish-Estonian minorities.

The elections of the Provincial Assembly produced the following results: [2][3]

Party Ideology MPs % of MPs
Estonian Country People's Union
(Eesti Maarahva Liit)
Agrarianism, conservatism 13 23.6%
Estonian Social Democratic Association
(Eesti Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Ühendus)
Social democracy 9 16.4%
Party of Estonian Socialists-Revolutionaries
(Eesti Sotsialistide-Revolutsionääride Partei)
Social revolutionarism 8 14.5%
Estonian Democratic Party
(Eesti Demokraatlik Erakond)
Centre-right 7 12.7%
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (bolsheviks)
(Venemaa Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Tööliste (bolševike) Partei)
Communism 5 9.1%
Estonian Radical Socialist Party
(Eesti Radikaal-Sotsialistlik Partei)
Left-wing politics 4 7.3%
Radical Democrats
Liberalism 4 7.3%
Baltic Germans Minority interests 1 1.8%
Estonian Swedes Minority interests 1 1.8%
Independents 3 5.5%

In the wake of the November revolution in St Petersburg, when the Bolshevik Estonian Military Revolutionary Committee staged a coup d’état, the Maapäev refused to recognize the new Bolshevik rule. The Bolsheviks then attempted to disband the Council. In its last meeting on 15th November 28, the Maapäev proclaimed itself the supreme legal authority of Estonia until the convening of the Constituent Assembly. The Committee of Elders was authorized to issue laws. The council was then dissolved by force on November 26th[4] by the Bolsheviks, compelling leading politicians to go underground. At the Constituent Assembly election in early 1918, organised by the Bolsheviks, two-thirds of the voters supported the parties who stood for national statehood. The Bolsheviks then immediately proclaimed the elections null and void. On 19 February, the Committee of Elders of the Land Council decided to proclaim Estonian independence. A Salvation Committee (a three-member committee formed by the Maapäev as executive body for the time when the activities of the Assembly were hindered) with special powers was set up for that purpose. On 24 February 1918, after the Bolsheviks abandoned Tallinn and one day before German forces occupied the country's capital city, the Salvation Committee issued a formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Estonia.

After the German occupation of Estonia ended, the Maapäev continued as the legislative assembly of Estonia until 1919.

See also

External links


  1. ^ Miljan, Toivo (2004). Historical Dictionary of Estonia. ISBN 9780810849044. 
  2. ^ Suny, Ronald Grigor (1993). The Revenge of the Past. ISBN 9780804722476. 
  3. ^ Eesti Maapäev - kõrgema võimu kandja Eestis
  4. ^ Maesalu, Lukas, Lauer, Pajur and Tannberg, History of Estonia, AS BIT 2002, ISBN 9985206061

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