Alar Karis elected President of Estonia

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Alar Karis.
Alar Karis. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Alar Karis will become Estonia's next head of state after being elected president in the Riigikogu on Tuesday during the second round of voting. Karis received 72 votes, passing the 68 votes needed to get elected.

Eighty Riigikogu members voted, 72 in favor of Karis with eight leaving their ballots blanks. The vote took place as a secret ballot.

After the result was announced, Karis said: "I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, as well as those who did not. I promise to be a good partner to the Riigikogu. Thank you very much."

Karis, 63, is a former auditor general, former rector of the University of Tartu and of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, and only publicly agreed to run as president less than two weeks ago.

He will be Estonia's sixth president.

While both coalition parties Center and Reform nominated Karis, it was not clear if a sufficient number of opposition MPs from the Social Democrats (SDE) and Isamaa would vote for him.

Reform and Center together had 59 votes, meaning they needed to find nine more votes from SDE and Isamaa.

The first round of voting at the Riigikogu on Monday saw Karis pick up 63 votes, five short of the 68 needed to be elected.

President Kersti Kaljulaid will leave office in October. Karis was proposed for president by the Center Party.

The vote count on Tuesday was delayed 30 minutes due to a protest from EKRE MP Kalle Grünthal. He claimed Center Party MP Marika Tuus-Laul, who took part in the vote while seated in a car outside the Riigikogu, was sat too close to an electoral committee official.

The 19 EKRE Riigikogu members did not withdraw their ballots and two MPs, Siima Kallas (Reform) and Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa), did not vote as they are both receiving treatment in hospital.

Alar Karis being congratulated in the Riigikogu after the ballots had been counted on August 31, 2021. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

What happens next?

Alar Karis will take office on October 11. You can read more about Alar Karis here.

Editor's note: This article was updated to add comments from Alar Karis.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Kristjan Kallaste, Helen Wright

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