Kaja Kallas confirmed as Estonia's first female PM

Kaja Kallas confirmed as Estonia's first female PM

Kaja Kallas, 43, was confirmed by the Riigikogu (parliament) on Monday as the country's new prime minister and was also authorized to form a coalition with the Center Party.

Speaking to parliament as the small Baltic eurozone state struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic, Kallas vowed "to keep Estonia as open as possible, so that people could go to work, and children to school, and the economic activity could continue".

Her government will command 59 seats in Estonia's 101-member parliament and won the backing of 70 MPs in Monday's confidence vote after garnering support from the Social Democrats.

Both parties are set to have seven ministerial portfolios each in the 14-member government, with Reform Party leader and former MEP Kaja Kallas as prime minister.

A lawyer and former European Parliament lawmaker, she is the daughter of Siim Kallas, one of the Reform Party's creators, a former prime minister and a former European Union commissioner.

Ratas resigned earlier this month after his party came under investigation for corruption.

Kallas' Cabinet has a little over two years to leave its mark in this European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member before the next general election set for March 2023.

Ratas' centre-left Centre party remains in the government as Reform's partner, despite corruption charges filed by prosecutors who allege the party's general secretary agreed to a donation of up to 1 million euros from a businessman in exchange for a permit to build on public land.

In a statement, the new government says the fight against the coronavirus will be one of the top priorities.

Ms Kallas has stressed gender balance in forming the new cabinet, placing several women in key positions, including Reform's Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as finance minister and Eva-Maria Liimets, Estonia's ambassador to the Czech Republic, as the foreign minister.

The far-right EKRE party which had been in coalition with Ratas is now out of government.

Estonia's two largest political parties, the Center Party and the Reform Party, reached an agreement on Sunday allowing the formation of a new government.

The strong rhetoric of the EKRE leaders, Mart Helme and his son Martin Helme, created several embarrassing situations for Ratas' government with public statements that were seen as insulting to Estonia's worldwide allies and tarnishing the country's image, and which brought the government to the brink of collapse at least twice. Kaljulaid, who assumed her post in October 2016, hasn't announced whether she will seek re-election to another five year term.

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