Six of Estonia's ministerial candidates have no government experience

Isamaa voting on its ministerial candidates.
Isamaa voting on its ministerial candidates.

Six of the proposed 15 ministers in Estonia's next coalition have never held ministerial office before, four from the Social Democrats and two from Isamaa's.

Isamaa's choices Lea Danilson-Järg and Kristjan Järvan have never held office before and are not elected members of the Riigikogu.

Justice minister candidate Danilson-Järg currently works as an editor at the daily newspaper Postimees but was previously an adviser during the Center/Isamaa/EKRE government (2019-2021).

"I have seen the work of the ministry up close when I worked for the Minister of Population Riina Solman so I have no illusions that it will somehow be easy," she told "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Thursday.

Issues in the coalition agreement requiring her attention include electricity market reform and the changes to family benefits.

Justiitsministri kandidaat Lea Danilson-Järg. Autor/allikas: Priit Mürk/ERR

Start-up entrepreneur Järvan will become minister of entrepreneurship and IT, replacing Andres Sutt. He has been close with the party in the past and is one of the architects of Isamaa's second pillar pension reforms passed in 2020.

He will now focus on electricity market reform although he has no direct experience in the field of energy.

"I myself am a home consumer who will be in a difficult situation this winter, and, as the analysis of the second pillar proved, I have no problem going into very complex problems and creating a new solution," Järvan said.

"We all know that the winter will be very harsh and Isamaa's wish is not to leave anyone behind and to help all small consumers."

Kristjan Järvan. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Four of SDE's five ministers will be new to the post. Chairman Lauri Läänemets will become minister of interior, his first ministerial role.

Long-term union leader Peep Peterson will be minister of health and labor. Over the years it has been his job to negotiate the minimum wage. He received an official offer from SDE on Thursday morning.

As minister, he will be responsible for nursing home reform, among other things.

Another newcomer is Madis Kallas, currently, Saaremaa municipality mayor, who will become minister of the environment.

Piret Hartman Source: Erakogu

Kallas said his current role as head of one of Estonia's biggest municipalities provides him with plenty of knowledge and experience on environmental matters.

"[F]ortunately or unfortunately, I have them on my desk every day. I have had to deal with them both as the mayor of Kuressaare and as the mayor of Saaremaa," he said.

This will also be Minister of Culture Piret Hartman's first ministerial posting but she also has experience in the field. Hartman is currently undersecretary for cultural diversity at the Ministry of Culture and chairman of the board of the Integration Foundation.

Kallas: Parties choose their own ministers

Reform is the only party in which every candidate has previous experience in a ministerial role, with four ministers retaining their positions from the last government.

Hanno Pevkur will replace Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform), but he has previously acted as minister of social affairs (2009-2012), minister of justice (2012-2014) and minister of interior (2014-2016).

Riigikogu põhiseaduskomisjoni istung Autor/allikas: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Acting Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who is a candidate for the same role, said parties put forward their own ministers. She said she had been surprised by some of the appointees.

Asked how is satisfied with the new ministerial candidates, she said the parties were searching for candidates until the last moment.

"There has not been time to look into them thoroughly, but each political party chooses its ministerial candidates and joins the government with them," she said.

Kallas added that if it becomes clear that someone cannot do their job, they must be replaced. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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