The Government and Politics of the European Union

Seventh edition

by Neill Nugent


Population 1.4 m
Capital Tallinn
Surface area 43,400 km2
Official Language Estonian
Gross domestic product (GDP) (in euros) 19.11 bn
GDP as a % of EU-27, based on 2009 data 0.2
GDP per capita by purchasing power standards (indexed to EU average of 100) 68.2
Currency Kroon (EEK)
Human development index (HDI), an index based on life expectancy, education and GDP (max. 1) 0.860
World rank in HDI 44/177
Key economic sectors Services (75); industry (21); agriculture (4)
Unemployment in July 2009 15.5% (source:
Main religious denominations (numbers in thousands) Lutheran (152); Estonian Orthodox Church (144)
Political system A unicameral national assembly is elected for four year terms, and a President for five-year terms. All presidential candidates must gain the nominations of at least one-fifth of assembly deputies in order to stand.
Electoral system There are 12 electoral districts with eight to 12 mandates in each. A candidate is elected by gaining more than ‘quota’ (the number of votes cast divided by the number of mandates), or else being on a party list which achieves more than quota nationally. A presidential candidate must achieve a two-thirds majority of votes to be elected. If one does not, then an electoral college, comprising national deputies and local councillors, must choose the president by simple majority.
Current (March 2010) leaders President: Toomas Ilves (b. 1954), since October 2006
Prime minister: Andrus Ansip (b. 1956), since April 2005
Previous leaders: Presidents: Arnold Rüütel (2001-06); Lennart Georg Meri (1992-2001)
Prime ministers: Juhan Parts (2003-05); Siim Kallas (2002-03)
Joined the EU/EC 2004
Commissioner from country in Barroso II College of Commissioners, and portfolio Siim Kallas (Transport)
Number of MEPs 6/754
Turnout in 2009 EP elections (%) 43.2
Member of eurozone No

Except where a specific reference is inserted, the sources for this profile are either Neill Nugent’s book itself, or Barry Turner (ed.), The Statesman’s Yearbook Online, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. If your library subscribes, you can gain access at