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8 Jul, 2022 19:34

Another European PM resigns

Estonia’s Kallas has stepped down until she can be reappointed prime minister of the new coalition
Another European PM resigns

Kaja Kallas, Estonia’s first-ever female prime minister, submitted her resignation to President Alar Karis on Friday. The move is part of a month-long effort to put together a new coalition government, after Kallas lost the support of her erstwhile junior partner and with it the parliamentary majority. A new cabinet will include three parties and, once it’s finalized, the Riigikogu is expected to approve Kallas as the PM again.

“I myself submitted this resignation proposal,” Kallas told the Estonian outlet Delfi, explaining that she wished to avoid “noise and discontent” if she simply appointed new ministers.

The announcement came after her Reform party reached a power-sharing deal with two smaller parties, the Social Democrats and Isamaa (Fatherland).

“Habemus papam,” Kallas tweeted on Friday, using the Latin expression for the election of a new pope to herald the deal.

The Baltic state has been facing a cabinet crisis since June 3, when Kallas’s coalition with the Center Party (Eesti Keskerakond, EK) fractured over the push to make all elementary education in Estonian only – banning the use of Russian in the former Soviet republic.

The Centrists’ departure left Kallas with only 34 seats in the 101-member legislature, which meant that the Social Democrats and Isamaa could drive a hard bargain for their nine and 12 seats, respectively. 

In addition to the education bill, the three parties stumbled over family and energy subsidies, as Estonia faced skyrocketing energy prices due to the EU embargoes against Russia. While they have reached an agreement on the policies, the three parties are still working on the composition of the new cabinet. The Social Democrats’ leader, Lauri Laanemets, said it could be in place by the end of next week.

President Kariis welcomed the new coalition deal, saying it came “at the twelfth hour,” and that the new cabinet must be formed quickly amid the “acute security crisis” he blamed on Moscow.

“Estonia will have new ministers who must quickly start work to lead our people through the challenges of inflation and energy prices that lie ahead in autumn and winter,” said Karis, according to the national broadcaster ERR.

Kallas became prime minister in January 2021, after the resignation of the Centrist PM Juri Ratas, following a scandal. She has been a vocal advocate of anti-Russian sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, calling for the EU to arm the Kiev government. Even as she negotiated the new government on Friday, she was tweeting about a new €2 coin minted by the Estonian central bank, which will feature the slogan “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine).