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

Kaja Kallas

FILE – In this file photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, Chairwoman of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas poses for a photo in Tallinn, Estonia. President Kersti Kaljulaid said Thursday Jan. 14, 2021, in a statement that Kaja Kallas would now have 14-days to put together a new Cabinet, after Prime Minister Juri Ratas stepped down in the wake of a corruption scandal. (AP Photo/Raul Mee, FILE)

HELSINKI (AP) — Estonia’s new two-party coalition government has been sworn in with the first female prime minister in the Baltic country since it 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 in the 101-seat Riigikogu legislature, after President Kersti Kaljulaid had first appointed it.

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

Both parties have seven ministerial portfolios in the Cabinet in addition to Kallas’ prime minister post. The government musters a comfortable majority in the Parliament.

The Reform Party emerged as the winner of Estonia’s 2019 general election under Kallas’ lead but she failed to form a government at the time.

Kallas stressed gender balance in forming the new Cabinet, placing several women in key positions such as Reform’s Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as finance minister and Eva-Maria Liimets, Estonia’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, as the foreign minister.

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