Kaja Kallas of the center-right Reform party has just become the first female prime minister of Estonia. Kallas obtained this position following the dissolution of the prior government after a corruption scandal of theirs. She had previously worked as a lawyer and a member of the European Parliament between 2014 and 2018, when she was the first female chair of the Estonian Reform Party.
Kallas was able to reach the summit of Estonian politics through a coalition agreement between her Reform party and the left-leaning Center party in which both parties agreed to have seven ministers in their 14-person cabinet, with Kallas serving as its prime minister.
Kallas will take power with the main priority of combating the spread of the coronavirus in Estonia to allow her country to reopen. Other principal priorities of hers include resisting the Estonian far right’s push to define marriage as exclusively between a man and woman and ceasing further investment in the fossil fuel industry.
Outgoing Prime Minister Juri Ratas resigned his position in mid-January after a leading official in his party was alleged to have taken a large private donation to his political party in return for a permit to construct on public land.
Kallas’ Reform party was in place to take power after it garnered the most votes during the 2019 Estonian general election. However, it was prevented from organizing a government after an alliance of the Center Party, conservative Fatherland party, and right-wing EKRE formed and took power instead. The next Estonian general election will take place in 2023.
Kallas will take leadership of a country with various economic strengths and security challenges. The Baltic country is among the most developed countries in all of Europe, and one with the 20th-highest GDP per capita in the world. Protecting the sustainment of this prosperity against the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic will be a key challenge of the Kallas administration.
Meanwhile, the threat of Russian military incursion against the former Soviet state is a central concern of Estonia’s foreign policy. Thus, maintaining strong ties with its allies in NATO and stable relations with the Russian government will be a high priority of Kallas’ foreign policy.