Estonian leader’s party reaches new coalition government deal

Officials from Kallas’s pro-business Reform Party, which overwhelmingly won Estonia’s parliamentary election on March 5 with 31.2% of the vote, the centrist Estonia 200 party and the Social Democratic Party said they would form the coalition after agree on government programs for the next four years after lengthy talks.

“This agreement guarantees that Estonia is protected, that we can continue as an independent and self-sufficient country,” Kallas, who will remain as prime minister, said during a press conference.

Ms. Kallas has held the post of prime minister of Estonia, a member of the European Union and NATO, since January 2021, when she became the first female head of government in the nation of 1.3 million.

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Ms. Kallas’s party was the landslide winner in the March 5 poll (AP)

The Reform Party was also the main partner in the outgoing tripartite government with the Social Democrats and the conservative Isamaa (Motherland) party.

Kallas, 45, has chaired the Reform Party since 2018, and the new Cabinet will be his third.

The reform will have seven ministerial portfolios, including Ms. Kallas’s prime ministerial post, the finance minister and defense minister’s portfolios in the 13-member cabinet. She would have a 60-seat majority in the 101-seat Riigikogu, the parliament.

Estonia 200, which is going to have the portfolio of chancellor, and the Social Democrats would have three ministries each.

Ms Kallas said her new cabinet will face difficult financial, security, educational and other decisions that are “necessary for Estonia”.

“We want Estonia to be protected, the welfare and livelihood of our people to be guaranteed, state finances to be in order, education, language and culture to be preserved, and tomorrow to be better for everyone”, said.

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Ms Kallas has been an ardent supporter of Ukraine (AP)

Ms. Kallas added that defense and security would be at the top of the new cabinet’s agenda.

“Security is a main concern,” Ms Kallas said, referring to Estonia’s neighbor Russia, which is waging a war in Ukraine. “That’s why we’re increasing our defense spending … in the coming years.”

Ms Kallas has become one of the most outspoken supporters of Kiev in Europe, and Estonia has been a major provider of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began last year.

“A lot depends on how the war in Ukraine goes. So I hope Ukraine wins the war and Russia returns to its territory,” Kallas said.

Although Reform won nearly twice as many votes as the far-right populist EKRE party runner-up in March’s election, Kallas needed junior partners to form a cabinet that can rule with a comfortable majority for the next four years.

The formal signing of the coalition pact will take place on Monday, after which Ms Kallas will hand over the resignation of her outgoing government to President Alar Karis.

He is expected to formally appoint her as prime minister-designate, followed by a confidence vote on the new cabinet in the Riigikogu.


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