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Estonia Has Appointed Its First Woman Prime Minister

Estonia is set to get its first woman prime minister after the country’s two biggest political parties struck a deal to form a government on Sunday Jan. 24.

Kaja Kallas will lead a new cabinet that will replace the previous cabinet resigned earlier in January over a corruption scandal. She was tasked with forming a new government by the president, Kersti Kaljulaid, who has been Estonia’s first woman head of state since 2016.

Her cabinet, comprised of her center-right Reform Party and the ruling, left-leaning Center Party, will include women in other key roles such as the finance minister and foreign minister, AP reported.

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The leader of Estonia’s Reform Party and new Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (R) and members of her new Reform-Center coalition pose after the new government was sworn in at the Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu, in Tallinn, Estonia, on January 26, 2021. (Photo by RAIGO PAJULA/AFP via Getty Images)

In a joint statement, the parties said that they will “continue to effectively resolve the COVID-19 crisis, keep Estonia forward-looking and develop all areas and regions of our country.”

Kallas, a 43-year-old lawyer, served as a European Parliament lawmaker from 2014 to 2018, where she focused on digital and energy policies.

estonia first woman prime minister
Kaja Kallas talks with journalists in front of the Presidential Palace in Tallinn, where she met the Estonian President on April 5, 2019. (Photo by Raigo Pajula / AFP via Getty Images)

In 2018, she became the first woman to chair the Reform Party, which was co-created by her father. The party won Estonia’s 2019 general election but was blocked from forming a government by the Center Party and its leader, Juri Ratas, who formed a three-party coalition with the far-right EKRE and the conservative Fatherland Party.

Ratas stepped down as prime minister on Jan. 13 over allegations that a key official in his Center Party accepted a private donation for the party in exchange for a political favor on a real estate development in Tallinn, the capital, according to AP.

kaja kallas estonia first woman prime minister
Kaja Kallas (Photo by Stina Kass)

Kaja, whose Reform Party defines itself as β€œthe leader of the liberal worldview in Estonia,” ruled out including the far-right EKRE in her cabinet, citing considerable differences in values.

She also said that her cabinet would embark on a “diplomatic mission to regain trust among the country’s allies and assure them of Estonia’s new political course,” according to AP, following damages to the country’s liberal international image as a result of the far-right EKRE party’s “strong rhetoric,” The New York Times reported.

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