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.
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.
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, whose Reform Party defines itself as “the 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.