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Author:Kalle Merusk
Position:Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law, University of Tartu

This issue of Juridica International is dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, and it offers reading and thinking not only on the issues of constitutional law that are specific for Estonia , but also those with a broader meaning.

The Constitution of the Republic of Estonia has been in effect in the newly independent Estonia for 15 years, and has ensured the democratic development of the state. It may be said that during those 15 years, no serious political crises have occurred in Estonia , owing to the well-balanced Constitution. At the conference dedicated to the anniversary of the Constitution, entitled "Political Issues in Constitutional Review: Where is the Line between Political Interference and Regular Constitutional Review Proceedings?" President of the Republic of Estonia ToomasHendrikIlves said, strikingly: "When looking back at the 15 years of the Constitution, I believe that we can be satisfied, because the Constitution has served as a sound foundation for the pursuit of the goals that we set after the restoration of independence".

The current Constitution of the Republic of Estonia was adopted at a referendum on 28 June 1992, with 91.1% of the attending voters in favour. The electoral committee’s decision on the results of the referendum was adopted on 2 June 1992, and the Constitution entered into force on 3 July 1992. Both historical experience and modern developments of constitutional law were taken into account in the drafting of the Constitution. There was much to learn from the previous Estonian Constitutions and the problems that occurred upon their implementation.

The first Estonian Constitution was adopted in 1920; it was one of the most democratic constitutions in Europe at the time. However, it had a major shortcoming as it lacked a system of checks and balances. Both this and the fragmentation of the Parliament led to a situation where Estonia had 20 governmental crises over a period of 13 years and six months (1920-1933), an average of one every eight months. This provided a basis for blaming the Constitution and parliamentarism for the lack of stable executive power. The result was a major constitutional amendment in 1933 that liquidated parliamentarism and replaced it with a special form of dualism. Considering the content of the...

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