The President of Estonia gave on Sunday, November 20, gave the leader of a party once regarded as “Russian” the mandate to form a new government.
The new leader of the Estonian Centre Party, Juri Ratas, was given the mandate by the newly appointed President, Kersti Kaljulaid. That is the first time the Centre Party will participate in a government in a generation, let alone lead it.
The Centre Party was for years the party of the Russian-speaking minority. By coming to power, Estonia breaks with Baltic tradition and makes a step towards the country’s political, social, and national cohesion.
President Kaljulaid said on Sunday that she is convinced Ratas will form the country’s next government. She also said she is convinced Estonia would have continuity in its foreign policy.
Ratas has secured the support of the Social Democrats and the Res Publica Union (IRL) party. A fourth partner – the Free Party – was ready to join a new government but was excluded.
Each of the two partners of the Center Party will be handed five ministerial portfolios. The coalition will be committed to NATO and Eurozone membership. Ratas has assured Estonia that nothing will change regarding the country’s pro-Western trajectory.
Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas lost a no confidence vote on Nov. 9.
Estonia’s coalition will now be led by the Reform Party, followed by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE). The Reform Party has been in government for 17 consecutive years, leading Estonia’s transition from a post-Soviet economy in transition to a member of the EU with an innovative economy.
Jüri Ratas, an academic and environmental activist, was born in Tallinn in 1978. He joined the Center Party in 2002 and began his career as an advisor to the mayor of Tallinn and Center Party Chairman, Edgar Savisaar.