List of heads of government of Estonia

Last updated

This is a list of people, who have been heads of government of the Republic of Estonia from 1918, either as a Chairman of the Council of Elders (1918), Prime Minister (1918-1920; 1934-1940 and from 1990), State Elder (1920–1934) or President-Regent (1937–1938). The office of Prime Minister (Peaminister) first came into use soon after Estonia gained its independence in 1918. From 1918 to 1934, Estonia used a parliamentary political system, where the presidency and ministry were subject to parliamentary confidence, but instead of a presidential office, the government was headed by a Prime Minister and from 1920 to 1934, a similar office called State Elder (Riigivanem).


The 1934 constitution gave the State Elder the role of the president, with a separate head of government created, restoring the office of Prime Minister. The new system was obstructed by a 1934 coup d'état by head of government Konstantin Päts. During his authoritarian era (1934–1937), he ruled as both Prime Minister and State Elder. The latter office was entrusted to him briefly until the presidential elections. In 1937, the two offices were combined into the office of President-Regent (Riigihoidja), but the situation was again changed with the 1938 constitution, when Konstantin Päts gave up the office of Prime Minister to a new officeholder.

The Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940 made Johannes Vares the new Prime Minister of Estonia, but his rule was later declared to have been illegal. According to the 1938 constitution, Prime Minister was to lead the presidency in case the President couldn't be elected, a move that was implemented for the Estonian Government in Exile. The interim government restored the office of Prime Minister in 1990.

List of heads of government

PortraitNameTerm of OfficePolitical PartyCabinet Riigikogu
Head of State
Took OfficeLeft OfficeDays
Konstantin Pats.jpg Konstantin Päts
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
of the Provisional Government
24 February 191812 November 1918440 Country People's Union
Päts I Provisional
Prime Minister
of the Provisional Government
12 November 191827 November 1918Päts II Provisional
[Note 1]
27 November 19189 May 1919Päts III Provisional
[Note 2]
1 Otto August Strandman
1st Prime Minister
9 May 191918 November 1919194 Labour Party
Strandman I
[Note 3]
2 Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
2nd Prime Minister
18 November 191928 July 1920254 People's Party
Tõnisson I
[Note 4]
3 Ado Birk.jpg Ado Birk
3rd Prime Minister
28 July 192030 July 19203 People's Party
4 Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
4th Prime Minister
(2nd term)
30 July 192026 October 192089 People's Party
Tõnisson II
5 Ants Piip, 1923.jpg Ants Piip
5th Prime Minister
26 October 192020 December 192092 Labour Party
1st State Elder20 December 192025 January 1921
Konstantin Pats.jpg Konstantin Päts
2nd State Elder
(2nd term)
25 January 192121 November 1922666 Farmers' Assemblies
Päts I
[Note 5]
Juhan Kukk
3rd State Elder
21 November 19222 August 1923255 Labour Party
[Note 6]
Konstantin Pats.jpg Konstantin Päts
4th State Elder
(3rd term)
2 August 192326 March 1924238 Farmers' Assemblies
Päts II
[Note 7]
Friedrich Akel.jpg Friedrich Karl Akel
5th State Elder
26 March 192416 December 1924266 Christian People's Party
Portree, Eesti Panga president J. Jaakson, AM F 27238-2.jpg Jüri Jaakson
6th State Elder
16 December 192415 December 1925365 People's Party
[Note 8]
Jaan Teemant
7th State Elder
15 December 192523 July 1926725 Farmers' Assemblies
Teemant I
[Note 9]
23 July 19264 March 1927Teemant II
4 March 19279 December 1927Teemant III
Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
8th State Elder
(3rd term)
9 December 19274 December 1928362 People's Party
Tõnisson III
August Rei
9th State Elder
4 December 19289 July 1929218 Socialist Workers' Party
Otto August Strandman
10th State Elder
(2nd term)
9 July 192912 February 1931584 Labour Party
Strandman II
Konstantin Pats.jpg Konstantin Päts
11th State Elder
(4th term)
12 February 193119 February 1932373 Farmers' Assemblies
Päts III
[Note 10]
Jaan Teemant
12th State Elder
(2nd term)
19 February 193219 July 1932152 Farmers' Assemblies
Teemant IV
[Note 11]
United Farmers' Party
Kaarel Eenpalu.jpg Karl August Einbund
(later Kaarel Eenpalu)
13th State Elder
19 July 19321 November 1932106 United Farmers' Party
Einbund I
[Note 12]
Konstantin Pats.jpg Konstantin Päts
14th State Elder
(5th term)
1 November 193218 May 1933199 United Farmers' Party
Päts IV
Jaan Tonisson1928.jpg Jaan Tõnisson
15th State Elder
(4th term)
18 May 193321 October 1933157 National Centre Party
Tõnisson IV
6 Konstantin Pats.jpg Konstantin Päts
16th State Elder
21 October 193324 January 19341,647 Farmers' Assemblies
[Note 13]
Päts V
non-party coalition
[Note 14]
6th Prime Minister
(in duties of the State Elder)
24 January 19343 September 1937 Prime Minister
in duties of
the State Elder

[Note 15]

[Note 16]
(6th term)
3 September 193724 April 1938None
7 Kaarel Eenpalu.jpg Kaarel Eenpalu
(formerly Karl August Einbund)
Acting Prime Minister
24 April 19389 May 1938537None
[Note 15]
Päts V
non-party coalition
[Note 14]

7th Prime Minister
(2nd term)
9 May 193812 October 1939Eenpalu II
non-party coalition
[Note 12]
8 Juri Uluots.jpg Jüri Uluots
8th Prime Minister
12 October 193921 June 1940
[Note 17]
[Note 15]
non-party coalition
1st Soviet Occupation (1940–1941)
German Occupation (1941–1944)
Otto Tief.jpg Otto Tief
Acting Prime Minister
18 September 1944
[Note 18]
25 September 1944
[Note 19]
non-party coalition
Prime Minister
in duties of
the President
Jüri Uluots
[Note 20]
2nd Soviet Occupation (1944–1991)
(See Estonian Government in Exile)
Edgar Savisaar 2005-crop.jpg Edgar Savisaar
(b. 1950)
1st Prime Minister
of the Interim Government
3 April 1990
[Note 21]
29 January 1992668 Popular Front of Estonia
[Note 22]
Estonian People's Centre Party
Savisaar Interim
various coalition partners

[Note 23]
Chairman of the
Supreme Soviet
Chairman of the
Supreme Council

Arnold Rüütel
[Note 23]
Tiit Vahi teisel Arvamusfestivalil Narvas.jpg Tiit Vähi
(b. 1947)
2nd Prime Minister
of the Interim Government
29 January 199221 October 1992266NoneVähi Interim
various coalition partners
Lennart Georg Meri
[Note 24]
9 Mart Laar.png Mart Laar
(b. 1960)
9th Prime Minister
21 October 19928 November 1994749 Pro Patria
[Note 25]
Pro Patria National Coalition Party
Laar I

[Note 26]

10 Andres Tarand 12.4.2012.jpg Andres Tarand
(b. 1940)
10th Prime Minister
8 November 199417 April 1995161 Moderates
[Note 26]
[Note 26]
11 Tiit Vahi teisel Arvamusfestivalil Narvas.jpg Tiit Vähi
(b. 1947)
11th Prime Minister
(2nd term)
17 April 19956 November 1995701 Coalition Party and
Country People's Alliance

Vähi I
6 November 199517 March 1997Vähi II
12 Siimann Mart.IMG 2960.JPG Mart Siimann
(b. 1946)
12th Prime Minister
17 March 199725 March 1999739 Coalition Party and
Country People's Alliance

13 Mart Laar.png Mart Laar
(b. 1960)
13th Prime Minister
(2nd term)
25 March 199928 January 20021,041 Pro Patria Union
Laar II
Arnold Rüütel
[Note 24]
14 Kallas Siim.IMG 3350.JPG Siim Kallas
(b. 1948)
14th Prime Minister
28 January 200210 April 2003438 Reform Party
15 Juhan-Parts.jpg Juhan Parts
(b. 1966)
15th Prime Minister
10 April 200312 April 2005735 Res Publica Party
16 Portrait Andrus Ansip.jpg Andrus Ansip
(b. 1956)
16th Prime Minister
12 April 20055 April 20073,271 Reform Party
Ansip I
Toomas Hendrik Ilves
[Note 24]
5 April 20076 April 2011 Ansip II
6 April 201126 March 2014 Ansip III
17 RE Taavi Roivas.jpg Taavi Rõivas
(b. 1979)
17th Prime Minister
26 March 20149 April 2015973 Reform Party
Rõivas I
9 April 201523 November 2016 Rõivas II
Kersti Kaljulaid
18 KE Juri Ratas.jpg Jüri Ratas
(b. 1978)
18th Prime Minister
23 November 201629 April 20191195 Centre Party
Ratas I
[Note 27]
29 April 2019Incumbent Ratas II


Time in office

A total of 23 people have headed the Government of Estonia, 15 before and 8 after the Soviet occupation. Konstantin Päts headed the government for the longest, a total of 3,563 days during six different terms (2,059 days without his authoritarian era). Andrus Ansip is the second longest office holder, having been democratically in office longer than Päts.

The shortest time in office was for Ado Birk, when he served as Prime Minister for only 3 days and never actually stepping into office. Acting Prime Minister Otto Tief was in office for 8 days between the German and Soviet occupations in 1944. Ants Piip, August Rei, Jüri Uluots, Juhan Kukk, Friedrich Karl Akel and Jüri Jaakson were also in office for less than a year.

Number and length of terms

Konstantin Päts served a total of six terms, although his sixth term turned into an authoritarian regime. Jaan Tõnisson was in office four times, although there was just one full day of Ado Birk's cabinet between his first two terms. Otto August Strandman, Jaan Teemant, Karl August Einbund (named Kaarel Eenpalu during his second term in the semi-authoritarian era), Tiit Vähi (first term during the interim period) and Mart Laar all served two terms in office.

Longest average term lengths are all in the reindependence period with Andrus Ansip in the lead (3,271 days), Mart Laar second (895 days) and Mart Siimann third (739 days). Longest interwar average term is held by Konstantin Päts (594 days). During the interwar democratic era however, longest average term was achieved by Jaan Teemant (439 days), followed by Otto August Strandman (389 days) and by Konstantin Päts himself (383 days).

The era before occupation had the shortest average term lengths with the two extremes of Ado Birk (3 days) and Otto Tief (8 days), but also Ants Piip with 92 days. Jaan Tõnisson also had an average term length of only 216 days. Andres Tarand (with 161 days) and Siim Kallas (with 438 days) have the shortest average term lengths during the reindependence era.

Age at assuming office

Mart Laar was only 32 years old when he became Prime Minister in 1992. Ado Birk, Ants Piip, Juhan Kukk, Taavi Rõivas, Edgar Savisaar, Mart Laar (2nd term in 1999) and Juhan Parts were also in their 30s when appointed. Jaan Tõnisson was 64 when stepping into office in 1933. The rest were in their 40s or 50s when assuming office, average age at appointment is 48.

Jüri RatasTaavi RõivasAndrus AnsipJuhan PartsSiim KallasMart LaarMart SiimannTiit VähiAndres TarandMart LaarTiit VähiEdgar SavisaarOtto TiefJüri UluotsKaarel EenpaluKonstantin PätsJaan TõnissonKonstantin PätsKarl EinbundJaan TeemantKonstantin PätsOtto StrandmanAugust ReiJaan TõnissonJaan TeemantJüri JaaksonFriedrich AkelKonstantin PätsJuhan KukkKonstantin PätsAnts PiipJaan TõnissonAdo BirkJaan TõnissonOtto StrandmanKonstantin PätsList of heads of government of Estonia


  1. The Estonian Social Democratic Workers' Party (ESDTP) joined the coalition on 16 November 1918.
  2. The German Party in Estonia (SEE) joined the coalition on 28 November 1918. The Russian Citizens' Assembly (VKK) joined the coalition on 28 February 1919. The Estonian Democratic Party (EDE) merged with the Estonian Radical Democratic Party (ERDE) to form the Estonian People's Party (ERE) on 1 March 1919 and the new party remained in the government.
  3. The Estonian People's Party (ERE) left the coalition on 20 September 1919.
  4. Estonian Social Democratic Workers' Party (ESDTP) left the coalition on 1 July 1920, but its ministers remained in office.
  5. The Estonian Labour Party (ETE) left the coalition on 13 October 1921. Its ministers resigned on 20 October 1921.
  6. The Minister of Internal Affairs Karl August Einbund, the only representative of the Estonian People's Party (ERE) in the coalition, left the party on 5 March 1923. His former party decided to remain in the coalition without any ministerial positions.
  7. The Estonian Labour Party (ETE) left the coalition on 14 February 1924. Its ministers remained in office until 19 February 1924.
  8. The Estonian Social Democratic Workers' Party (ESDTP) merged with the Independent Socialist Workers' Party (ISTP) and formed the Estonian Socialist Workers' Party (ESTP) on 9 April 1925 and the new party remained in the government.
  9. The National Liberal Party (RVP) joined the coalition on 12 January 1926.
  10. The parliamentary group of the Estonian People's Party (ERE) merged with the parliamentary group of the Christian People's Party (KRE) on 28 October 1931 and the parliamentary group of the Farmers' Assemblies (PK) with the parliamentary group of the Settlers', State Tenants' and Smallholders' Group (PAVK) on 26 January 1932, with both party coalitions remaining in the government. The Estonian People's Party (ERE) and the Christian People's Party (KRE), already in a party coalition, merged with the Estonian Labour Party (ETE) and formed the National Centre Party (RKE) on 29 January 1932. The party remained in the government.
  11. The Farmers' Assemblies (PK) and the Settlers', State Tenants' and Smallholders' Group (PAVK), already in a party coalition, merged and formed the United Farmers' Party (ÜPE) on 29 February 1932. The new party remained in the coalition.
  12. 1 2 As Karl August Einbund Estonianized his name into Kaarel Eenpalu, his two cabinets are therefore known as Einbund I and Eenpalu II cabinets.
  13. All political parties were banned on 20 March 1935.
  14. 1 2 Although Konstantin Päts resigned as President-Regent on 24 April 1938 to become the President on the same day, his cabinet remained temporarily in office until 9 May 1938, headed by acting Prime Minister Kaarel Eenpalu.
  15. 1 2 3 Was member of the Patriotic League which was the only sanctioned political organization, but which cannot be considered a political party per se.
  16. The "Era of Silence" began with Konstantin Päts' self-coup on 12 March 1934. The Riigikogu approved of the coup retroactively on 15 March 1934. The Riigikogu was thereafter not convened after 2 October 1934. It was officially disbanded on 1 January 1938.
  17. The Soviet Union occupied Estonia on 17 June 1940. The Soviet regime staged a pro-Soviet coup d'état on 21 June 1940, replacing the Jüri Uluots cabinet with that of Johannes Vares. The Republic of Estonia does not consider the Johannes Vares cabinet a legal government of Estonia and considers the Jüri Uluots cabinet to have legally remained in office until 18 September 1944.
  18. Prime Minister in the duties of the President Jüri Uluots appointed a new government after the departure of German forces, hoping to restore Estonian independence before the arrival of Soviet forces.
  19. The Soviet Union occupied Estonia on 17 June 1940. The Soviet regime staged a pro-Soviet coup d'état on 21 June 1940, replacing the Jüri Uluots cabinet with that of Johannes Vares. The Republic of Estonia does not consider the Johannes Vares cabinet a legal government of Estonia and considers the Jüri Uluots cabinet to have legally remained in office until 18 September 1944.
  20. The legal Prime Minister Jüri Uluots assumed the role of Prime Minister in the duties of the President on 18 September 1944, after the departure of German forces and before the arrival of Soviet forces.
  21. The Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR on 30 March 1990 declared Soviet rule to have been illegal since 1940 and declared a transition period for full independence. Full independence was restored on 20 August 1991.
  22. The Popular Front of Estonia formed the Estonian People's Centre Party on 12 October 1991.
  23. 1 2 The "Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic" was renamed the "Republic of Estonia" on 8 May 1990 and thus the translation of the Ülemnõukogu was changed from "Supreme Soviet" to "Supreme Council".
  24. 1 2 3 President left the party upon assuming office.
  25. The electoral alliance "Pro Patria" formed the Pro Patria National Coalition Party on 21 November 1992.
  26. 1 2 3 The electoral alliance "Moderates" (M) consisted of the Social Democratic Party (ESDP) and the Estonian Rural Centre Party (EMKE).
  27. The Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica was renamed Party Pro Patria on 2 June 2018.

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