Elections of the lower chamber of the parliament and establishing the Soviet order in Estonia in 1940

​After Estonia was invaded by the Soviet Union in June 1940, the occupation was formalised to make it appear that the processes in Estonia were lawful. Preparations for reorganisation were directed by the Soviet emissary Andrei Zhdanov, who arrived in Tallinn, having studied Estonian legislation and thus participated in preparing all the legal acts and documents. Consideration was given to allowing the existing legislation to remain in force, but this was not always possible. The two-chamber parliament of the Republic of Estonia was dissolved and only the lower chamber of the parliament (Riigivolikogu) was allowed to convene. The staged parliamentary elections took place on 14 and 15 July. To promote their candidates, the communists established the electoral bloc called the Estonian Working People’s Union, which ran candidates in all electoral constituencies, choosing people loyal to the new authorities. Using the promise of the new power of ‘free elections’, the national circles presented 87 opposing candidates for 80 seats in the parliament. The occupying power did not like this idea and, with one exception, all of the candidacies of the national opposition were disallowed. Various illegal methods were used to achieve this. The communists convinced some candidates (often by threats) to withdraw their candidacies, and the rest were disqualified because of technicalities or were accusations of demagogy. The elections were accompanied by massive propaganda, the electorate was threatened in the press and results were falsified. In the end, the occupying forces achieved their aim, as the new parliament fully obeyed their orders.

At the first meeting on 21 July 1940, the puppet parliament unanimously passed declarations in which Estonia became a Soviet Socialist Republic (ESSR). The puppet parliament applied for membership of the Soviet Union, the application being accepted on 6 August 1940 at the Supreme Council session in Moscow; on 25 August the puppet parliament again convened and passed a new constitution, which had been approved three days earlier by the Communist Party Politburo in Moscow. The Soviet Estonian lower chamber of parliament subsequently renamed itself the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR. Although the constitution declared the ‘power of the soviets (i.e. councils)’, no other councils were established and, instead, the whole governing system was sovietised. The aim was to adopt the system valid in the Soviet Union, where the main political decisions came from the Party, and the power of the soviets was only declarative and in contrast to the reality.

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