The Estonian Provincial Assembly (Estonian: Maapäev) was elected after the February Revolution in 1917 as the national diet of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia in Russian Empire. On November 28, 1917, after the October Revolution the Assembly declared itself the sovereign power on Estonia and called for the elections of the Estonian Constituent Assembly. On the eve of the German occupation of Estonia in World War I the council elected the Estonian Salvation Committee and issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence on February 24, 1918.
On April 12, 1917 the Russian Provisional Government issued an order on the provisional autonomy of Estonia. The Governorate of Estonia, comprising what is now northern Estonia was merged with the Estophone northern part of the Governorate of Livonia, to form the autonomous governorate. The Russian Provisional Government decreed that a provincial assembly, colloquially known as the Maapäev, be created with members elected by indirect universal suffrage.
Elections for the 62 deputies of the diet were held in many stages; members representing the rural communities were elected in two-tiered elections in May-June, while the town representatives were elected in July-August, 1917. The election process saw the creation and reorganization of Estonian national parties.
|Estonian Social Democratic Association||9|
|Estonian Socialist Revolutionary Party||8|
|Estonian Democratic Party||7|
|Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (bolsheviks)||5|
|Estonian Radical Democratic Party||4|
|Source: Raun, Suny|
In the wake of the November revolution in St Petersburg, when the Bolshevik Estonian Military Revolutionary Committee staged a coup d’état, the Maapäev refused to recognize the new Bolshevik rule. The Bolsheviks then attempted to disband the Council. In its last meeting on 15th November 28, the Maapäev proclaimed itself the supreme legal authority of Estonia until the convening of the Constituent Assembly. The Committee of Elders was authorized to issue laws. The council was then dissolved by force on November 26th by the Bolsheviks, compelling leading politicians to go underground. At the Constituent Assembly election in early 1918, organised by the Bolsheviks, two-thirds of the voters supported the parties who stood for national statehood. The Bolsheviks then immediately proclaimed the elections null and void. On 19 February, the Committee of Elders of the Land Council decided to proclaim Estonian independence. A Salvation Committee (a three-member committee formed by the Maapäev as executive body for the time when the activities of the Assembly were hindered) with special powers was set up for that purpose. On 24 February 1918, after the Bolsheviks abandoned Tallinn and one day before German forces occupied the country's capital city, the Salvation Committee issued a formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Estonia.