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|President of the Republic of Estonia
Eesti Vabariigi President
The Flag of the President
|Term length||Five years, renewable once consecutively|
|Inaugural holder||Konstantin Päts|
|Formation||24 April 1938|
|Website||President of the Republic of Estonia|
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Estonia is a parliamentary republic, therefore the President is mainly a symbolic figurehead and holds no executive power. The President is obliged to suspend his (or her) membership in any political party for the term in office. Upon assuming office, the authority and duties of the President in all other elected or appointed offices terminate automatically. These measures should theoretically help the President to function in a more independent and impartial manner.
The President is elected by the Riigikogu or a special electoral body for a five-year term. The electoral body is convened in case no candidate secures a two-third-majority in the Riigikogu after three rounds of balloting. The electoral body, which consists of all members of the Riigikogu and elected representatives of all local self-governments (at least one representative per each municipality, but not more than 10 representatives depending on the number of citizens with voting rights residing in the municipality), elects the president, choosing between the two candidates with the largest percentage of votes.
The President can not be elected for more than two consecutive terms.
The current President is Toomas Hendrik Ilves elected by an electoral body on 23 September 2006 and re-elected on 29 August 2011.
Estonia didn't have a president from 1918 to 1938. This institution was intentionally left out of the first Estonian constitution, for its authors tried to avoid the concentration of power in one person's hands by all means possible. This eventually led to a creation of an ultra-parliamentary system. The power of the Parliament was practically unlimited and the Government was totally controlled by the Parliament. The functions that are usually vested on a president in parliamentary systems were divided among the speaker of Riigikogu, the State Elder and the Government. Until 1934, the nominal head of state was the State Elder. (riigivanem), who was also head of the government. However, he could not play a balancing role, should there be any conflict between the Parliament and the Government. The State Elder was completely dependent on the Parliament and could be sacked by it at any time. Estonia's constitution was amended in 1933, transforming the country from a parliamentary to a presidential state. The head of state, according to the new constitution, was also called the State Elder. However, this provision never came into effect as a result of Konstantin Päts's coup d'état in 1934. According to the third Constitution of Estonia, the role of the head of state and also a strong executive power was vested upon the President of the Republic. Konstantin Päts became the first person to bear this title. His term was to last for six years, but ended short as Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, Päts was dismissed and later arrested.
Within days after the Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940, the President was pressured into affirming the Andrei Zhdanov appointed puppet government of Johannes Vares, following the arrival of demonstrators accompanied by Red Army troops with armored vehicles to the Presidential palace. Following the sham elections in July, Päts was dismissed from office and Vares assumes presidential responsibilities. Later in July Päts, along with his son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons, was deported to Ufa in Russia.
According to the 1938 constitution, should the position of the President of the republic become vacant or otherwise incapacitated, the president duties are assumed by the Prime Minister. However, during times of war or incapacitation lasting longer than six months, the constitution provides for the election of an acting President by the Electoral Council. The Electoral Council met in secret on April 20, 1944, and determined that the appointment of Vares as Prime Minister in 1940 was unlawful according to the 1938 constitution. The Council elected Jüri Uluots as acting President of Estonia on April 21. Uluots appointed Otto Tief as Prime Minister. Tief was subsequently arrested by the re-occupying Soviet forces in September.
In September 1944, Uluots and the surviving members of the Tief government escaped to Sweden. The day before Uluots died in January, 1945, a successor August Rei was named to assume the position of acting President. Following Rei's death in 1963, the role passed to Aleksander Warma, then to Tõnis Kint in 1971, then to Heinrich Mark in 1990. Then in 1992 the last acting President of Estonia, Heinrich Mark, handed over his credentials to the newly elected President of the restored republic, Lennart Meri.
After Estonia regained independence, a parliamentary constitution based upon the 1938 law was adopted again. Four elections have taken place (in 1992, 1996, 2001 and 2006), in all of which the parliament failed to choose the President and the election passed to the electoral assembly. Lennart Meri was elected in 1992 (this election, unlike later ones, had a public round) and re-elected in 1996, defeating Arnold Rüütel both times. Rüütel himself became the next President in 2001. In 2006, Toomas Hendrik Ilves won the election.
The President of the Republic of Estonia:
|#||Portrait||Name||Took Office||Left Office||Party||Birth and Death|
|1||Konstantin Päts||24 April 1938||23 July 1940||Fatherland Union||b. 23 February 1874, Tahkuranna
d. 18 January 1956, Burashevo, Kalinin Oblast, USSR
|1938 - I round - elected by the parliament and municipal appointees as the only candidate with 219 of 238 votes (92.0%).|
|2||Lennart Georg Meri||6 October 1992||8 October 2001||National Coalition Party Pro Patria||b. 29 March 1929, Tallinn
d. 14 March 2006, Tallinn
|1992 - II round - elected by the parliament with 59 of 101 votes (58.4%).
1996 - V round - elected by the parliament and municipal appointees with 196 of 372 votes (52.7%).
|3||Arnold Rüütel||8 October 2001||9 October 2006||People's Union of Estonia||b. 10 May 1928, Laimjala Parish, Saare County|
|2001 - V round - elected by the parliament and municipal appointees with 186 of 366 votes (50.8%).|
|4||Toomas Hendrik Ilves||9 October 2006||Incumbent||Social Democratic Party||b. 26 December 1953, Stockholm, Sweden|
|2006 - IV round - elected by the parliament and municipal appointees with 174 of 345 votes (50.4%).
2011 - I round - elected by the parliament with 73 of 101 votes (72.3%).
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