Estonian leader Kaja Kallas urged to form new government

HELSINKI (AP) — Estonia’s president on Thursday asked Prime Minister Kaja Kallas to form a new government after tendering the resignation of his one-party minority cabinet, ending a more than month-long political deadlock in the Baltic nation. .

President Alar Karis said in a tweet after meeting Kallas that “I have signed Prime Minister @kajakallas’ request for resignation but I have also asked him to form a new government that could start working quickly and deal with all issues important parts of Estonian life”.

Estonia’s government crisis culminated in early June when Kallas, leader of the ruling centre-right Reform Party, expelled the left-wing Center Party from the two-party coalition. The parties had substantial differences over spending and welfare policies amid rising costs for Estonian households due to high inflation.

The inflation rate in Estonia, a member of the European Union and NATO with a population of 1.3 million, is now the highest in the euro area, with annual inflation reaching 22% in June, according to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency. High energy prices are one of the main causes of inflation in the Baltic nation.

Last week, the Reform Party, politically liberal and based on a conservative fiscal policy platform, struck a coalition deal with the opposition Social Democrats and the small Conservative Homeland Party (“Isamaa”) .

The three parties together garner a comfortable majority of 56 seats in the Riigikogu legislature which has 101 seats. The coalition agreement prevents Kallas, who became Estonia’s first female prime minister in January 2021, from having to govern with a one-party minority government. It is already the third government in Estonia in just over three years since the 2019 parliamentary elections.

The new government needs formal parliamentary approval before it can be nominated by Karis and sworn in this week or early next week. Kallas tweeted that she would ask lawmakers for a mandate to form her second cabinet on Friday.

The government will be short-lived as Estonia is due to hold general elections in March.

Kallas, 45, is the daughter of former Estonian prime minister and EU commissioner Siim Kallas, who was one of the founders of the Reform Party – a key political party in the Baltic country – in the 1990s She has led the Reform Party since 2018.

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