Who's who: Estonia's new government

Session Hall at the Riigikogu.
Session Hall at the Riigikogu. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Estonia's new government will be sworn in today - ERR News introduces the new ministers.

The new government has been formed by the two largest parliamentary parties -the Reform Party and the Center Party - and has a total of 59 Riigikogu seats out of a possible 101, giving it a majority.

Chairman of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas is the prime minister and has become Estonia's first female prime minister.

The new government has 14 ministers which have been divided equally between the parties.

Ministers: Who's who?

The new government has seven female ministers and eight men, which is the first time Estonia has had so many women in government.

Some ministers already have plenty of experience in politics, while others will be taking their first steps into national politics.

ERR News has put together a guide for the new government.

Reform Party

Prime Minister: Kaja Kallas

Kaja Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Kaja Kallas, 43, chairman of the Reform Party and a former MEP, will become Estonia's first female prime minister. This is her first ministerial post.

Kallas has been chairman of the party since 2018 and was a member of the European Parliament between 2014-2018. In 2017, she was named one of the influential women in Brussels by website Politico.

She was previously a member of the Riigikogu (2011-2014) and was a lawyer before entering politics.

Her father is Siim Kallas an MP and former chairman of Reform, foreign affairs minister, MEP and European Commission vice president.

Minister of Finance: Keit Pentus-Rosimannus

Keit Pentus-Rosimannus on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" on Wednesday, January 20. Source: ERR

Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, 44, will become minister of finance.

Pentus-Rosimannus has more than a decade's worth of political experience in the Riigikogu having been either a minister or member of parliament since 2007. She has previously been foreign minister (2014-2015), environment minister (2011-2014), member of the Riigikogu (2007-2011) and held several advisory roles. She was also a Tallinn city center elder (2003-2005).

She joined the Reform Party in 1998.

Pentus-Rosimannus resigned from the post of minister of social affairs after the Autorollo scandal in 2015.

Minister of Defense: Kalle Laanet

Kalle Laanet Source: Sander Koit/ERR

Kalle Laanet, 55, will become defense minister.

He has been a Reform MP since 2015 and was Deputy Riigikogu speaker 2018-2019. 

Additionally, Laanet has a long history in law enforcement. He was deputy director of Europol (2011-2015) and former head of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA).

He was previously a member of the Center Party until 2012 and minister of interior between 2005-2007. Before that, Laanet was prefect of the Western Police Prefecture and had other roles in law enforcement.

He has been a member of Reform since 2014.

Minister of Justice: Maris Lauri

Reform MP Maris Lauri. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Maris Lauri, 55, will become the minister of Justice.

Previously, Lauri was briefly education and research minister (Sept-Nov 2016) which was ended by a vote of no-confidence in Taavi Rõivas' government. She was also minister of finance between Nov 2014 and April 2015. She worked as an adviser to Taavi Rõivas and was a ministry and Bank of Estonia adviser in the 1990s. 

Lauri has been a Reform Party MP since 2015.

Minister for Education and Research: Liina Kersna

Liina Kersna. Source: Rain Kooli/ERR

Liina Kersna, 40, will become minister for education and research. This will be her first ministerial role.

Kersna has been a member of the Riigkogu since 2015. She has previously been an advisor to the prime minister (2013-2015), the communications director of the government office (2010-2012) and held several advisory positions before between 2002-2010. She also has a background in journalism.

She joined the Reform Party in 2015.

Minister of Foreign Trade and IT: Andres Sutt

Andres Sutt. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Andres Sutt, 53, will become minister of foreign trade and IT. This is his first ministerial position.

Sutt has 25 years of international finance and banking experience and has lived in the U.S. and Luxembourg. He was elected a Reform Party MP for the first time at the March 2019 elections.

He was previously a board member and departmental director at Eesti Energia (2017-2018), head of the Banking Division at European Stability Mechanism (ESM) (2013-2016) and adviser at the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). He has also acted as adviser to the director of the International Monetary Fund (2009-2012) and was the Bank of Estonia Deputy Director (2001-2009). 

Minister of Social Welfare: Signe Riisalo

Signe Riisalo Source: Erik Peinar

Signe Riisalo, 52, will become minister of social welfare. This will be her first ministerial role.

Riisalo is an expert in child welfare and has worked in the field of child protection and social welfare since 1993. She was involved in drafting the Child Protection Act, Social Welfare Act, and other legislation

Riisalo is head of the Reform Party's workgroup on social affairs and has been a Reform Party MP since 2019. 

This is a new portfolio and the minister will be in charge of families and social support, those in need of state support and pensions.

Minister of Rural Affairs: Urmas Kruuse

MP Urmas Kruuse (Reform). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Urmas Kruuse, 55, will become minister of rural affairs.

Kruuse is an experienced politician having been rural affairs minister (2015-2016), health and labor minister (2014-2015), mayor of Tartu (2007-2014) and mayor of Elva in Tartu County (2002-2007).

He has been a Reform MP since 2015.


Center Party

Minister of Health and Labor: Tanel Kiik

Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) Source: Margarita Mironova/ERR

Tanel Kiik, 32, will remain a member of the government but will become minister for health and labor instead of minister of social affairs.

Kiik took up the role of minister of social affairs in April 2019, which was his first ministerial position. Previously he had been an advisor to Jüri Ratas since 2012.

Minister of the Interior: Kristian Jaani

Kristian Jaani. Source: Politsei- ja piirivalveamet

Kristian Jaani, 44, will become minister of the interior, moving from heading up the Northern Prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA). This is his first role in politics.

Jaani joined Tallinn police in 1997 and rose up the ranks. He is not a member of the Center Party.

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Eva-Maria Liimets 

Eva-Maria Liimets Source: Välisministeerium

Eva-Maria Liimets, 46, will become minister of foreign affairs. She moves to the position from being Ambassador of Estonia to Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia (2018-2021).

She has more than a decade of experience working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, previously, she was consulate general of the Estonian Embassy in New York (2014-2017).

Liimets has told head of the Center Party Jüri Ratas she will join the Center Party.  

This is the first time the Center Party has secured the foreign affairs portfolio.

Minister Economic Affairs and Infrastructure: Taavi Aas

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Taavi Aas, 55, will continue in the role of minister of economic affairs and infrastructure which he took up in 2019.

This is his first ministerial job but he has plenty of political experience previously having been mayor of Tallinn (2015-2019) and deputy mayor of Tallinn (2005-2015).

Minister of Culture: Tiit Terik

Minister of Culture Tiit Terik (Center) took his oath of office in the Riigikogu. Source: Erik Peinar/Riigikantselei

Previously, Terik was a chairman of the Tallinn City Council since 2019 and chairman of the board of The Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities.

He has been a member of the Estonian Parliament (2016-2019), City District Governor in Nõmme District Administration (2013-2016) and City District Governor in Pirita District Administration (2007-2013).

Anneli Ott stood down as minister of culture in October 2021.

Minister of Public Administration: Jaak Aab

Jaak Aab. Source: Vladislava Snurnikova/ERR

Jaak Aab, 60, will move from minister of education and research to minister for public administration.

As a member of the former government, Aab was made education minister in November 2020 after the resignation of Mailis Reps, until then he had been minister of public administration since April 2019.

He has previously been the minister for public administration (2017-2018), minister of social affairs (2005-2007) member of the Riigikogu (2007-2011 / 2002-2003) Mayor of Võhma in Viljandi County. He has been a Center Party member since 1994. 

Minister of Environment: Tõnis Mölder

Tõnis Mölder (Center). Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Tõnis Mölder, 31, will become minister of the environment. This is his first ministerial position and he was elected to the Riigikogu for the first time in 2019.

Mölder has been the chairman of Center Party's Riigikogu group since October 2020 and head of the social affairs committee.

He has a background in local politics (2010-2019) and was formerly an elder in Pirita district (2013-2017). After the local elections in 2017, he became a deputy mayor of Tallinn (2017-2019). He has been a Center Party member since 2008

Tõnis Mölder resigned as minister in November 2021.  

Quick facts About the new government

Average age: 47.3

Oldest minister: Jaak Aab, 60.

Youngest minister: Tõnis Mölder, 31

Number of women: Seven - five from Reform, two from Center (compared with Jüri Ratas' second cabinet, which contained one woman when entering office in late April 2019).

Number of men: Eight.

Returning ministers: Eight.

New ministers: Seven, including Kaja Kallas.

Fun fact: Estonia is currently the only country with a female prime minister and female president. Several others, including New Zealand and Denmark, have female prime ministers and female head of states.



Read more about why Estonia's previous government collapsed here.

You can read more about each minister on the Riigikogu website.


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Editor: Helen Wright, Andrew Whyte

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