Searching for the Estonian Obama ({{commentsTotal}})

Jevgeni Ossinovski
Jevgeni Ossinovski Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

US President Barack Obama broke the mold in the United States when he became the first African American to win the presidency in 2008. Barring British expatriate Abdul Turay, Estonia has no black politicians, but there are plenty of barriers to break. ERR News takes a look at a host of candidates who can change the rules in Estonian politics.

Jevgeni Ossinovski

The obvious choice – an ethnic Russian, part of a large minority group, just like Obama. His party's chairman Sven Mikser branded him “Estonia's Obama” after local elections in 2013, where Ossinovski had success in SDE's campaign in Narva. The party bettered its results from 4.8 to 35.8 percent, with Ossinovski picking up the highest number of individual votes in Estonia's third largest city.

An SDE MP since 2011, Ossinovski was named as the education minister in March this year, less than two weeks after turning 28. Yet Ossinovski will have to accomplish much more to remove the tag of “the son of Estonia's richest person.” His father, Oleg, is worth close to 300 million euros, according to business daily Äripäev.

Kristiina Ojuland

Not exactly new to politics, holding the foreign minister's seat between 2002 and 2005, Ojuland was later an MEP and perhaps once even considered as a possible PM candidate.

Having seen her Reform Party career wind down, culminating in an expulsion for internal voting fraud, Ojuland set up her own party and has vowed to run for Parliament in March next year.

Her party is unlike to make much of a dent in the political landscape, but things like that have not kept her down and she has attracted some powerful, yet non-political, female backers.

Despite Ojuland's distance from power, the list of women with such high ambitions is short.

Oudekki Loone

Full name Kerstin-Oudekki Loone, she is a wild card compared to other names on the list. A social activist who joined the Center Party at the end of last year, Loone, 35, drew more than 1,000 votes in the European Parliament elections.

She has held a lecturer position at Tallinn University and currently working on a PhD at its Institute of Political Science and Governance.

Watch her debate in English before the EP elections here.

Worthy mentions

Kaja Kallas, Kadri Simson, both under 40, both high up in their parties, Reform Party and Center Party respectively, but both have seen their careers stumble in the past year.

Kallas was not handed a ministerial posting despite a government reshuffle and instead will spend the next years in Brussels. While lucrative, the MEP posting is unlikely to kick-start her Reform Party career. Center Party deputy chairman Simson has been in Parliament since 2007 but since her party has failed to win national elections she has not had her chance. She has become increasingly critical of her party in the past year due to the party's ties to Russian politics.

Jaan Männik and Siim Kallas, both male and ethnic Estonians, although Männik has a deep Swedish accent, having grow up on the other side of the Baltic Sea. The barrier the two men would break is age. The previous 11 prime ministers since 1991 have all been fairly young, from 32 to 54. Kallas, 66, and Männik, 69, would both be more than a decade older than the previous oldest leader.

Kallas came close in February, but failed the "keep-your-enemies closer" test. Männik voiced the need for a new right-wing party before Andres Herkel, who is a spring chicken at 52, but seems to have been scared off by Herkel.

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