Heads of state of the Republic of Estonia – Konstantin Pats stamp

February 24th, 2014

Eesti Post issued a stamp from the series "Heads of state of the Republic of Estonia" featuring Konstantin Pats.

Konstantin Pats (23 February 1874 – 18 January 1956) was the most influential politician of interwar Estonia. He was one of the first Estonians to become active in politics and started an almost 40-year political rivalry with Jaan Tonisson, first through journalism with his newspaper Teataja, later through politics. He was condemned to death during the 1905 Revolution, but managed to flee first to Switzerland, then to Finland, where he continued his literary work. He returned to Estonia, but had to spend time in prison in 1910–1911.

In 1917, Pats headed the Provincial Government of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia, but was forced to go underground after the October Revolution. On 19 February 1918, Pats became one of the three members of the Estonian Salvation Committee, that issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence on 24 February.

Konstantin Pats headed the Estonian Provisional Government (1918–1919), although being imprisoned during the German Occupation. In the Provisional Government, Pats also served as Minister of Internal Affairs (1918) and Minister of War (1918–1919), that left him organizing Estonian troops for the War of Independence.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, Pats led the most right-wing party of the major political parties of the time – Farmers' Assemblies, that eventually merged into the Union of Settlers and Smallholders in 1932. Pats was the speaker of the Riigikogu (1922–1923) and served five times as State Elder (1921–1922, 1923–1924, 1931–1932, 1932–1933 and 1933–1934). During his last term in 1934, he organized a coup d'etat to neutralize the right-wing populist Vaps Movement. He was supported by the army and the parliament. During the authoritarian regime ("Era of Silence"), many reforms were made and the economy grew. Pats ruled as Prime Minister in duties of the State Elder (1934–1937) and President-Regent (1937–1938) until a new constitution was adopted in 1938, after which Pats became the first President of Estonia. During his presidency, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia in 1940. As President, he was forced to sign decrees for over a month, until he was finally arrested and deported to Russia, where he died in 1956.