No. 48



Impact of the Intellectual History of Western Re-publicanism on the Debates over the Founding of the Republic of Estonia

14 December 2023


RiTo No. 48, 2023

  • Karl Lembit Laane

    Karl Lembit Laane

    Junior Research Fellow of Political Science, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu

The article gives an overview of the impact of the intellectual history of Western republicanism on the shaping of the 1920 Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and political order in the Constituent Assembly.

Its aim is to answer the questions of which classical authors influenced the views of the members of the Constituent As-sembly, the debates between them and how; which republican models were includ-ed, which of them prevailed and why. Hobbes, Montesquieu, the US Federalists, the Parliamentarists and the Jacobin interpretation of Rousseau had the greatest im-pact. However, they were more of a starting point for the right, and the left mostly rejected their arguments. The provisional constitution introduced an interpretation of the Swiss constitutional order influenced by the views Jacobins and Karl Ast, but after its miscarriage it moved to a semi-parliamentary model that was characterised by the absence of a head of state and the decisive role of the people in ensuring that the representatives of the people and the will of the people were in harmony through popular initiatives and referendums. The closest counterpart of this can be found in “The Second Treatise” of John Locke and the 1793 (Girondin) constitutional project of Marquis de Condorcet.