Right to vote

The Constitution of the Republic of Estonia invests the supreme power of state in the people, who exercise it through citizens with the right to vote at the Riigikogu elections and referendums.

In addition to this, local government council elections take place every four years and the European Parliament elections every five years.

The right to vote consists of the right to cast a vote and the right to stand as candidate.

  • An Estonian citizen has the right to vote at all elections as well as referendums.
  • Citizens of other EU Member States have the right to vote at local government council elections and the European Parliament elections.
  • A citizen of a non-EU Member State or a stateless person residing in Estonia may vote at the local government council elections if he/she resides in Estonia on the basis of a long-term residence permit or the right of permanent residence. He/she cannot stand as candidate to the council. 

A person must be of at least 18 years of age to vote, except at local government council elections, where 16- and 17-year olds have been given the right to vote. A person who has been divested of their active legal capacity with regard to the right to vote and a person who has been convicted of a crime and is serving sentence in a penal institution, cannot vote. In order to vote, a person must have been entered in the list of voters, which means that they must have the address of their residence entered in the population register.

In order to stand as candidate, a person must be of at least 21 years of age for the purpose of the Riigikogu and the European Parliament elections, and of at least 18 years of age for the purpose of the local government council elections, and they must conform to the requirements of the right to cast a vote. A person in active service in the Defence Forces or a person who has been convicted of a criminal offence by a court and is serving a prison sentence may not stand as candidate.

Legal acts prohibit certain officials from belonging to the parliament or a local government council during their term in office. This does not prevent them from standing as candidates; but, once elected, they must decide whether to continue in their current office or assume the tasks of a member of the parliament or a local government council.

The European Parliament elections are carried out in all EU Member States simultaneously. A person may vote and stand as candidate at the European Parliament elections only in one country. In order to vote or stand as a candidate the citizens of other EU Member States residing in Estonia must first submit a one-time application to be entered in the polling list.