People's Parliament

This article is about the 1940 occupation by the Soviet Union puppet legislatures. For the Channel 4 deliberative democracy TV program, see The People's Parliament.
Results of the show elections[1]
Country Turnout Votes for
Estonia 81.6% 92.2%
Latvia 94.7% 97.6%
Lithuania 95.5% 99.2%

The term People's Parliaments or People's Assemblies (Latvian: Tautas Saeima, Lithuanian: Liaudies Seimas) was used in 1940 for puppet legislatures put together after show elections in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to legitimize the occupation by the Soviet Union.[2] In all three countries, the elections to the parliaments followed the same scenario, dictated by functionaries in Moscow and borrowed from incorporation of Belarusian and Ukrainian lands in the aftermath of the invasion of Poland in 1939.[3]


On June 15 and 16, 1940, Soviet Union presented ultimatums to all three Baltic states, which were then invaded by the Red Army. After the invasion previous governments were replaced by pro-Communist "People's Governments". The new government then dismissed existing parliaments (Riigikogu in Estonia, Seimas in Lithuania) and announced new elections to the "People's Parliaments" to be held on July 14 and July 15, 1940 (originally, the election in Lithuania was to be held only on July 14, but due to low turnout was also extended to July 15).[4]


See also: Estonian parliamentary election, 1940, Latvian parliamentary election, 1940 and Lithuanian parliamentary election, 1940.

Only candidates proposed by legally functioning institutions could run in each election. By that time all non-communist parties and organizations were outlawed.[1] The local Communist parties emerged from underground with 1,500 members in Lithuania, 500 in Latvia, and 133 in Estonia.[5] Therefore only the Working People's Leagues proposed candidates, exactly one per each available seat. There were a number of non-communists on its slate. Efforts to present alternative candidates were blocked.[1] Repressions and terror were employed against election critics and political activists. For example, in Lithuania some 2,000 activists were arrested on June 11.[4] People were coerced to vote – anyone who did not vote was dubbed an "enemy of the people" and could expect future persecutions for "failing their political duties".[6] Those who voted had their passports stamped for future purposes.[1] The ballots had only one option – the name chosen by the Communists. According to the rigged results, Communist candidates received over 90% of the vote. The Soviet envoy in London released election results even before the voting booths closed.[4][7]

Parliament sessions and aftermath

All three parliaments convened on July 21, 1940. On their first sessions all three parliaments unanimously adopted resolutions to convert their states to Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR): the Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR, and Lithuanian SSR. Another decree resolved to petition the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union to accept these newly established SSRs into the Soviet Union. The parliaments also elected their representatives to go to Moscow and personally present their case in front of the Supreme Soviet.[4] Other acts adopted in these early sessions concerned nationalization of virtually all larger enterprises, real estate, and land, and other Sovietization policies.[1] The laws were adopted with virtually no discussion and unanimously.

On August 1, the Baltic delegates arrived to Moscow and petitioned the Supreme Soviet. After apparent deliberation, the Lithuanian request was granted on August 3, the Latvian request on August 5, and the Estonian request on August 6.[1] As a result the People's Parliaments renamed themselves Supreme Soviets of the respective SSRs. Thus the process of legitimizing the occupation was complete.[4] Even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia officially maintains that all three Baltic states voluntarily joined the Union.[8]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Misiunas, Romuald J.; Rein Taagepera (1993). The Baltic States: Years of Dependence 1940–1990 (expanded ed.). University of California Press. pp. 26–29. ISBN 0-520-08228-1.
  2. International Political Science Association. Research Committee of Legislative Specialists; Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (1998). World encyclopedia of parliaments and legislatures. Congressional Quarterly. p. 409. ISBN 1-56802-365-0. In July Soviet authorities held a rigged election for a puppet legislature, the People's Parliament
  3. Senn, Alfred Erich (2007). Lithuania 1940: Revolution from Above. On the Boundary of Two Worlds. Identity, Freedom, and Moral Imagination of the Baltics. Rodopi. p. 205. ISBN 978-90-420-2225-6.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Vardys, Vytas Stanley; Judith B. Sedaitis (1997). Lithuania: The Rebel Nation. Westview Series on the Post-Soviet Republics. WestviewPress. p. 52. ISBN 0-8133-1839-4.
  5. O'Connor, Kevin (2003). The history of the Baltic States. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 117. ISBN 0-313-32355-0.
  6. "RUSSIA: Justice in The Baltic". Time. 1940-08-19.
  7. Mangulis, Visvaldis (1983). "VIII. September 1939 to June 1941". Latvia in the Wars of the 20th century. Princeton Junction: Cognition Books. ISBN 0-912881-00-3.
  8. Bugajski, Janusz (2004). Cold Peace. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 109. ISBN 0-275-98362-5.
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