The new Prime Minister of Estonia has promised to restore the reputation of the Baltic nation after two turbulent years in which a far-reaching party was part of the country’s government.
“We will again build our relationships with our allies, our neighbors, and we will try to restore our name as a good country to invest in,” Caja Callas posted to Reuters in Tallinn on Tuesday Said after taking oath.
Kailas, 43, became the first woman Prime Minister of the country since attaining independence from Estonia in 1991. The Reform Party, which she leads, won the most votes in the 2019 general election, but was unable to form a government, with the rival party the far-right EKRE and another right-wing party to form a disputed coalition. Juri Ratas was the Prime Minister of the Center.
This alliance was always fragile, and was repeatedly shaken by the far-reaching rhetoric used by members of the EKRE government. In 2019, EKRE MP Reuben Kalip told the Guardian that the party’s agenda was to fight against “core replacements”, “LGBT agendas” and “leftist global ideological hegemony”.
In December of that year, Estonian President Keerti Kaljulaid apologized in Finland, after Interior Minister Mart Helm, the EKRE leader hailed Finland’s newly elected Prime Minister Sana Marin as a “sales girl”.
Last year, Kaljulaid called on the country’s Security Council to comment on the then US presidential candidate Joe Biden as “corrupt”. She said the remarks could endanger Estonia’s alliances.
In the end, the Rats government was plunged not by EKRE’s rhetoric but by a corruption scandal. He resigned earlier in January, and a new alliance was formed between the Center and the reform parties, with each Prime Minister and Kailas holding seven cabinet positions. The new cabinet will hold office for two years before a new election to be held in spring 2023.
Kalais, a former lawyer and MEP, is the daughter of Sim Kallas, who founded the Reform Party in 2002–2003 and was Prime Minister. He said gender balance was an important factor in the new cabinet, with many women appointed to key positions, including finance and foreign ministers.
Estonia is now one of only a few countries where both the head of state and government are women, although President Kaljulaid’s five-year term will expire this year, and he has not yet announced that he will seek another term .