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Estonia’s new government sworn in with first-ever female prime minister

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Estonia’s new two-party coalition government has been sworn in with the first-ever female prime minister since the nation regained independence in 1991.

The 15-member cabinet of prime minister Kaja Kallas, a 43-year-old lawyer, and a former European parliament lawmaker was approved Tuesday, 26 January, in the 101-seat Riigikogu legislature after President Kersti Kaljulaid had first appointed it.

Six ministers are women and eight are in their 30s or 40s, including Kallas.

The centre-right Reform Party, chaired by Kallas, and the left-leaning Center Party, which are Estonia’s two biggest political parties, reportedly clinched a deal on Sunday,24 January, to form a government replacing the previous cabinet led by center leader Juri Ratas that collapsed this month due to a corruption scandal.

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

Under the agreement, the parties put forward a gender-equitable cabinet, splitting the government’s 14 minister posts equally between each party.

“The idea behind the composition of my government was to strike a balance between men and women and between experience and novelty, Kallas said.

“The first thing we are going to deal with is the health crisis, our goal is to keep Estonia as open as possible so that people can go to work, children to school, and economic activities to continue.

Both parties now have seven ministerial portfolios in the cabinet in addition to Kallas’ prime minister post.

Kallas served as a lawmaker in the European Parliament from 2014 to 2018. In her time as an MEP, Kallas focused on energy and digital policies, US News reports.

Her father, Siim Kallas, is said to be one of the co-creators of Estonia’s Reform Party, and previously served as the country’s prime minister and went on to serve in two European Union commissioner posts.

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