Liberal victory sets Estonia on course for first female PM | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 05, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, March 05, 2019

Liberal victory sets Estonia on course for first female PM

Estonia was on track yesterday for its first female prime minister after the opposition liberal Reform party won a general election, outpacing the governing centre-left and a surging far-right party buoyed by a backlash from mostly rural voters in the Baltic eurozone state.

Reform leader Kaja Kallas, a 41-year-old lawyer and former MEP, wooed voters with business-friendly promises of cutting taxes and unemployment insurance premiums to aid job creation.

Bread-and-butter issues like taxation and public spending dominated Sunday's election in the ex-Soviet EU and Nato state, along with tensions over Russian-language education for the sizeable Russian minority and the rural-urban divide.

Reform garnered 28.8 percent of the vote, ahead of the governing centre-left Centre party with 23 percent, while the far-right EKRE more than doubled its previous election score with 17.8 percent, according to full results on Estonia's official election website.

Turnout was just over 63 percent.

A staunch europhile, Kallas is the daughter of former Estonian prime minister Siim Kallas, who also led the Reform party before serving as a European transport commissioner.

Should she succeed in putting together a viable coalition, Kallas will govern in tandem with President Kirsti Kaljulaid, Estonia's first female head of state who took office in 2016.

Vowing to "put together the government and start running the country with common sense", Kallas said Reform would consider coalitions with three of the four other parties that entered parliament, ruling out EKRE as "not a choice for us".

She said Reform has "strong differences" with the Centre party of outgoing Prime Minister Juri Ratas in three areas: taxation, citizenship, and education.

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