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Estonia: Far right set to enter government

April 7, 2019

Three parties have inked a coalition agreement to form a new government in Estonia. The deal most likely spells the end of another party leader's chances of becoming Estonia's first female prime minister.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas arrives for an EU summit in Brussels
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/G. Vanden Wijngaert

A far-right party is poised to enter Estonia's government for the first time after the country's biggest center-left party clinched a three-way coalition deal on Saturday.

The deal between the Center Party, the far-right Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) and the conservative Fatherland party would return Center leader Juri Ratas (pictured) to the prime minister's office after his first term ended earlier this week.

The deal foresees the Center Party controlling four ministries, including economic affairs and infrastructure.

EKRE leader Mart Helme would become interior minister and his son, Martin Helme, finance minister. The party would also control the environment, rural affairs, foreign trade and IT portfolios, while defense, justice, foreign affairs and culture would go to Fatherland.

Read more: Far-right 'stoking fears' in Estonia's parliamentary election

The parties also agreed on major policy commitments, including continued support for Estonia's membership of the EU and NATO, tax freezes and pension hikes. However, they dropped an EKRE pledge to stop public-funded abortions.

Martin Helme on Conflict Zone

With a combined 56 seats, the three parties should have no problem passing the deal in the 101-seat parliament. But before that can happen, the president must formally task them with forming a coalition government.

On Friday, President Kersti Kaljulaid gave that task to the leader of the center-right Reform Party, which won the most votes in the election.

Read more: Estonia's opposition Reform Party wins general election

Reform leader Kaja Kallas would be Estonia's first female prime minister. But that prospect appears unlikely because a deal with the only other party in the parliament, the Social Democrats, would not command a parliamentary majority.

The euroskeptic and staunchly nationalist EKRE has alarmed moderates since it was founded in 2012. It advocates for abolishing same-sex civil unions and opposes mandatory EU refugee quotas.

Kaja Kallas
The three-way deal most likely blocks Reform leader Kaja Kallas from entering the prime minister's officeImage: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Mee

amp/jm (AFP, AP)

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