From Destruction to Democratic Revival: Local government in Estonia

Liia Laanes

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaMonografia


Institutions are shaped by history. Hence, in order to understand why local government institutions in Estonia were designed the way they were at the beginning of the 1990s after the collapse of communism, we should take into account both the history and the context of that time. To this end, the current thesis aims to analyse the re-establishment of local government in Estonia in the 1990s in the light of the past. For this purpose, a historical institutionalist approach is applied, with a particular focus on a path dependence and legacies framework.

The interwar local government in Estonia was based on the structure created during the Russian era. Despite numerous legislative proposals, the special laws on local government were only enacted in 1937/38 under authoritarianism. During the communist period, the system used in the other Soviet republics was introduced in Estonia and local government became a state authority. The rebuilding of democratic local government in Estonia started at the end of the 1980s, not so much based on the interwar legislation on local government, but rather on the idea of interwar democratic local government. For some of the facets of local government institutions the path had already been paved a century ago or earlier, making some choices in the post-communist period more likely while simultaneously reducing other available alternatives. The communist legacy of incomplete nation-building was a focal point for many parliamentary debates at the beginning of the 1990s, with the result that in some cases less attention was paid to other details in the legislative process.

The thesis concludes that both interwar and communist legacies can help in explaining some of the institutional choices made at the beginning of the 1990s in Estonia. It proposes that the legacies explanation can prove useful in the historical institutionalist approach. Furthermore, when it comes to path dependence, it demonstrates that interdependent institutions can be more path dependent than procedural institutions.
Myöntävä instituutio
  • Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta
  • Sundberg, Jan, Valvoja
  • Ahonen, Pertti, Valvoja
  • Sootla, Georg, Valvoja, Ulkoinen henkilö
Painoksen ISBN978-951-653-422-3
TilaJulkaistu - 2018
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG4 Tohtorinväitöskirja (monografia)


Virheellinen ISBN 978-951-423-0 (PDF).


  • 517 Valtio-oppi, hallintotiede

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