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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


5. Participation

5.1 General context

On this page
  1. Definitions and concepts
  2. Institutions of representative democracy

Definitions and concepts

Youth participation has been one of the most important principles and goals in youth work in Estonia. The Youth Work Act outlines the principles of youth work in Estonia, whereby one of the main principles says that youth work is done for youth and with youth, involving them in the decision-making process.

The Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2014-2020) describes the underlying concept as following:

"Becoming involved in arranging one’s own life and the life of the community is what the life-changes of young people and the development of a strong civil society at large are based on. Young people’s sense of belonging and perception of being involved are determined by whether they have their say at home, at school, and in the community, whether there is a feeling of togetherness among peers and whether by doing things together they accomplish something meaningful within the community. This helps prevent young people from becoming socially apathetic and excluded and from having the need or desire to express themselves in a radical way or leave the country."

The concept of youth participation in Estonia is/was heavily shaped by the youth sector (i.e. youth work). The fact that youth should be a part of the decision-making process is already widely recognized, youth participation is guaranteed by the main documents in the youth field. The society’s attitude towards the involvement of children and young people has become more supportive.

Institutions of representative democracy

Estonia is a centralized state governed by parliamentary democracy. The Constitution of Estonia came into force in 1992 and has continued the democratic spirit of the 1920 Constitution, with some added mechanisms to maintain the balance of power of the state.

Head of the State is the President, who is elected by the parliament or an electoral body. For 5 years. The President has mainly representative functions. The national legislature is the Riigikogu: a unicameral parliament of 101 members. Parliament is elected for the term 4 years. The Government headed by the Prime Minister exercises the executive power. The Constitution provides a large degree of autonomy to local governments (towns and rural municipalities) elected for 4 years term.

The electoral system in Estonia is proportional representation. Voting is not compulsory. Available options for voting are voting with a ballot paper in the polling place, advanced voting, electronic voting, home voting and voting by post (in a foreign state).

The legal acts regulating the elections in Estonia are: