Estonia (official name: Republic of Estonia) is a Republic state based on constitutional parliamentary democracy.
President is the chief of the state and is elected by parliament for a five-year term. President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President nominates the Prime Minister after approval by parliament (generally leader of the majority party or coalition), for a 4 year term. Prime Minister is the head of the government and also holds the executive powers which include implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the Prime Minister, approved by parliament .
The legislature in Estonia is unicameral. The parliament called State Assembly has 101 seats with its members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. State Assembly is the highest organ of state authority. It initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the Prime Minister. Government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. Government cannot dissolve the parliament but can recommend the same to President who has to take parliament into confidence before taking a decision.The citizens of Estonia enjoy considerable political rights. Estonia is among the world's leaders in e-governance and features an impressively transparent system in which government decisions are almost instantly made available on the Internet.
Judiciary is independent in Estonia, and generally free from government influence. The main source of the law is the constitution of June 1992. The legal system is based on civil law system. No judicial review of legislative acts takes place in the country. Estonia being a member of the European Union, the national law in the country needs to comply with the conditions of the Community legislation. Estonia accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, but with reservations. The judicial language in the country is Estonian; having an interpreter is always possible.
Estonia is ruled by law. Foreign nationals can expect a fair trial from the country's judicial system. Estonia has a low degree of corruption but it is still a concern especially in the corporate sector.
Major political parties
Estonia has a multi-party system, with numerous parties in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and thus parties must work with each other to form coalition governments. The major parties in the country are:
Estonian Centre Party :
- left-of-centre liberal,
- Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica : conservative with moderate nationalism,
- Estonian Reform Party : free-market liberal,
- People's Union of Estonia : populist, agrarian.
Major political leaders
President: Toomas Hendrik ILVES (since October 2006) - Estonian social democrat party
Prime Minister: Andrus ANSIP (since April 2005) - Estonian Reform Party, heading a coalition government
Next political election dates
Presidential: Year 2011
State Assembly: Year 2011