Provincial Assembly

​Highest representative body of the people in Estonia 1917-1919

The Provincial Assembly (Diet) of the Estonian Province was established after the February revolution, on the basis of the 30 March 1917 decree of the Russian Provisional Government, as the local government body of the Estonian province. Its task was to solve local questions, impose taxes and norms, and draw up draft acts. Between the sessions of Diet, the Council of Elders took over. The opening meeting of the Provincial Assembly was on 1 July 1917; only delegates from counties elected in May-June were present. Elections in towns were only organised in August-September. Counties and towns sent a total of 62 delegates to the Assembly.

In reply to the Bolshevik coup d’état, the Provincial Assembly declared itself the only authority in the country on 15 November 1917, thus laying the legal foundation for the development of independent nationhood. The Assembly was forcefully disbanded by the Bolsheviks on the same day. During the next year, the Council of Elders operated underground, as the Provincial Assembly. The Council of Elders set as its goal the establishment of an independent republic, despatched a delegation to Western Europe, established the Salvation Committee and approved the text of the independence manifesto. The German occupation regime established in February 1918 did not recognise the Assembly. The latter gathered again on 20 November 1918 – now as the legal representatives of the people of the Republic of Estonia – and continued until the elections of the Estonian Constituent Assembly.

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