The 5th Riigikogu held the legislative power in Estonia from 15 June 1932 to 2 October 1934. In January 1934, the new Constitution entered into force, in March martial law was declared and the activities of the Riigikogu were discontinued. The members of the 5th Riigikogu represented six political parties and election coalitions. The United Farmers Party, the National Centre Party and the Estonian Socialist Workers Party had the greatest number of seats. Devaluation of the Estonian kroon due to the economic crisis, amending of the Constitution and the beginning of the so-called silent era were the keywords of the period.
The elections of the 5th Riigikogu were held on 21–23 May 1932. There were 737,930 citizens with the right to vote, and 495,313 of them, or 67.1%, voted.
Big changes took place on the political landscape of Estonia before the elections. On one side, the farmers’ parties united, forming a coalition that became known as the United Farmers Party and whose official name was the Union of Farmers’ Assemblies and Farmers, Settlers and Small Landowners. On the other side, the Estonian People’s Party, the Estonian Labour Party, Christian People’s Party and the House Owners’ Association united to form the National Centre Party.
The winner of the elections was the United Farmers Party, who got 42 seats (39.8% of the votes given).
They were followed by the National Centre Party with 23 seats (22.1% of votes) and the Estonian Socialist Workers Party with 22 seats (21% of the votes). German-Swedish Election Block, Russian National Union in Estonia with allies and a Communist shadow organisation Group of Leftist Workers and the Poor were also elected to the Riigikogu.
On 24 January 1934, the amended Constitution entered into force. Pursuant to the Constitution, Estonia became a presidential republic.
The activities of the 5th Riigikogu took place in a historically tense period both at home and in foreign policy.
Devaluation of the Estonian kroon due to the economic crisis, amending of the Constitution and the beginning of the so-called silent era were the keywords of these times. In Europe, totalitarianism started to raise its head.
- On 29 July 1932, the Riigikogu passed the Act on the Ratification of the Treaty of Non-aggression and Peaceful Solving of Disagreements and the Conciliation Convention between the Republic of Estonia and the Soviet Union.
- On 25 November 1932, the Riigikogu passed the Act on Balancing the State Budget, Organising Private Economy and Fighting Unemployment.
- On 27 June 1933, the Riigikogu decided to devalue the kroon by 35%.
- On 24 January 1934, the amended Constitution entered into force. Pursuant to the Constitution, Estonia became a presidential republic. The State Elder, who was elected for five years, had the right to dissolve the Riigikogu, to veto the decisions passed by the Riigikogu and to issue laws in the form of decrees. Pursuant to the new Constitution, the new parliament was to have 50 members. The executive power was exercised by the government that was subordinated to the State Elder and headed by the Prime Minister. Konstantin Päts became the Prime Minister acting as the State Elder. Actually the new Constitution was to a large extent not implemented, and the elections to the Riigikogu, whose size had been reduced by half, never took place.
- On 27 February 1934, the State elder submitted to the Riigikogu the Act on Amendments to the Defence Forces Service Act, which prohibited the members of Defence Forces to participate in political associations and political campaigning, as well as stand as candidates to the Riigikogu or local governments.
- On 16 March 1934, the last regular sitting of the Riigikogu was held. The Parliament approved the State Elder’s resolution on declaring martial law. All legislation became the competence of the State Elder, and all new acts were issued as the decrees of the State Elder.
- On 2 October 1934, the Riigikogu was dissolved.
In the book “Eestit tagasivaates” (“Estonia in Retrospect” 1987), Helmut Maandi, who was the member of the Riigikogu in those times, writes about the work in the Riigikogu: “Most of the bills were debated and passed without much dispute. At the same time, certain sensitive issues could cause tense arguments and even lead to obstruction. Devaluation of the Estonian kroon, sale of warships and the issues of amending the Constitution caused great excitement in the 5th Riigikogu.
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