No. 38




The Swan Song of Democracy and Parliamentarianism

  • Jaak Valge

    Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, University of Tartu

Riigikogu Toimetised is publishing part of the book by Jaak Valge Estonian Parliament 1917–1940. Political History, without citing the references. The book has already been edited and will be published shortly.

The book has been commissioned by the Chancellery of the Riigikogu, but the events have not been viewed through rose-coloured glasses. Estonian history – more specifically the history of Estonia’s internal policy and the history of the Estonian parliament at its core – in the unstable interwar Europe is so unique, fascinating, full of remarkable successes but also sorry failures, that glossing any of this over would be a sin against history and would take away the powerful potential that these events have to inspire us today.

The activities of the Estonian parliament have been discussed against the historical background, particularly in the early years because the conditions of the time formed the foundation for shaping and developing the work of the parliament. But the crisis years also required a more detailed treatment. The analysis of the events leading up to the coup allowed us to identify the reasons for relinquishing democracy and stripping the parliament of its importance. However, the activities of the impotent parliament of the authoritarian era have only been touched upon lightly because this was no longer a democratically elected representative body or the seat of the legislative power. Estonia is viewed in the context of the rest of Europe.

The research has been mainly based on the published verbatim records of plenary sittings and committee meetings. In addition, the book includes vast amounts of published scientific research from Estonia and abroad, contemporary articles in the press, and other relevant published materials, memoirs and archival materials from the Estonian archives, as well as reports made by foreign diplomats who resided in Estonia from archives abroad.