46-year old Kersti Kaljulaid, was elected as the 10th President of Estonia on Monday solving a political stalemate that saw 6 previous candidates unable to garner the required support.
But who is she, and what does this mean for Estonia?
A woman at the helm
Kaljulaid succeeds nine men and is the first woman to be elected as head of state.
In theory, the post is largely ceremonial. However, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has imbued the post with considerable prestige, spearheading Estonia’s ambitious e-governance program, advancing cybersecurity, and taking the lead in forming a political consensus for the need to deter Russia in the Baltics.
Resolving a Constitutional crisis
Kaljulaid also comes to resolve a constitutional deadlock.
The President of Estonia needs a two-third majority to be elected. The magic number is 68.
Members of Parliament (Riigikogu) vote in two successive ballots. That happened in August, and no consensus was reached. If that does not work, an electoral body is convened consisting of MPs and members of local government. That happened the last week of September. For the third time, a two-thirds majority remained elusive.
Six candidates have been rejected: Eiki Nestor, Siim Kallas, Marina Kaljurand, Mailis Reps, Mart Helme, and Allar Jõks.
On Monday, October 3, the deadlock was resolved.
Receiving 81 votes, the former EU auditor passed the two-thirds majority required to elect a President. 20 Members of Parliament abstained; no one voted against her.
Who is Kaljulaid?
Kaljulaid is a non-partisan candidate endorsed by all six parties represented in the Estonian parliament.
Born in Tartu in 1969. She studied biology and also holds an MBA.
She worked as a sales manager at the state-owned telecom company, Eesti Telefon, before moving into investment banking and ended up as an economic adviser to Mart Laar’s administration in 1999. In 2002 she was appointed the Director of a state-owned power plant, before moving to Luxembourg in 2004 as Estonia’s representative in the European Court of Auditors.
She has held that post for more than a decade.
She is a self-described liberal conservative, holding conservative economic views and a liberal ethical agenda on social matters, such as LGBT rights and immigration.