President Kaljulaid tasks Jüri Ratas with forming new government
President Kersti Kaljulaid met with Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas in Kadriorg on Sunday. Kaljulaid said that she was convinced Ratas would be able to form the country’s next government.
After a short meeting behind closed doors, President Kaljulaid signed Ratas’ official assignment to form Estonia’s new government. The president said that she was convinced that Ratas was up to the task, and that the new government would work for the country and continue its foreign and security policy course.
Ratas said speaking to journalists present that he accepted, that he took the assignment seriously, and that he would form a government to serve Estonia and its people.
After Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas lost a no confidence vote on Nov. 9 brought against him by the opposition, official coalition talks began between the Center Party, the Social Democrats, and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL). The Free Party, though ready to join the next government, was not included, and will remain in opposition together with the Reform Party and the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE).
For the Center Party, the latest developments mean a substantial leap forward. After more than 25 years mostly in opposition, and after the refusal of all other political parties to work with Center following then-chairman Edgar Savisaar’s stance on the Bronze Soldier Riot in 2007, the recent election of Jüri Ratas as party chairman changed not only the Center Party, but the political situation in Estonia, pushing the Reform Party out of government after 17 years.
Pending confirmation of his government by the Riigikogu, Jüri Ratas will be Estonia’s next prime minister.
Jüri Ratas was born in Tallinn in 1978. He is the son of Rein Ratas, a former state secretary, professor of biology, and environmental activist.
Ratas graduated the Tallinn University of Technology in 2002 with a degree in economics. He studied for a second bachelor’s degree in law at the University of Tartu, which he completed in 2005.
He joined the Center Party in 2002. Two years later Ratas became economic policy advisor to then-mayor of Tallinn and Center Party chairman, Edgar Savisaar. He was appointed deputy mayor of Tallinn in 2003, and served as mayor from 2005 to 2007. He has been deputy president of the Riigikogu since 2007.
Ratas was elected chairman of the Center Party on Nov. 5 this year, just days before the fall of the Reform Party’s Rõivas government.
Jüri Ratas is married and has a daughter and two sons.