Postimees: How the Jüri Ratas-Kaja Kallas rivalry evolved down the years

Kaja Kallas and Jüri Ratas at the Riigikogu, with President Alar Karis in the background.
Kaja Kallas and Jüri Ratas at the Riigikogu, with President Alar Karis in the background. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The rivalry between Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and Rigiikogu speaker, and former prime minister, Jüri Ratas (Center) is practically unique in Estonia in recent years, daily Postimees says, and is quite different from the mutually respectful, if implacable, opposition Kallas seems to have with EKRE leader Martin Helme.

It is also tinged with episodes of relative warmth, which may hint at potential cooperation once again between the two leaders' parties, after the March 2023 Riigikogu election, Postimees reports on its English-language page.

The pair had had little contact with one another before 2018 – Ratas became prime minister in November 2016 at a time when Kallas was an MEP, returning to Estonia in summer 2018 ahead of the 2019 Riigikogu elections – but soon made up for lost time during the coalition negotiations which followed that election.

In late March that year, Kallas stated that she would be "a better prime minister than Jüri Ratas"– nevertheless the Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition, headed up by Ratas, entered office just over a month later– while by late 2019, the dialectic had descended to the level of accusations of treason, while Kallas allegedly burst into tears when Ratas refused to hear her opinion on an important matter, Postimees writes.

Kallas eventually became prime minister in January 2021, a post she has retained since then, though in June this year she ejected all seven Center Party ministers (which did not include Ratas, who became Riigikogu speaker shortly after stepping down as prime minister), replacing them and Center the following month, with Isamaa and the Social Democrats – recreating a lineup last in office under Taavi Rõivas (Reform), until he was replaced by … Jüri Ratas.

Perhaps most tellingly, Kallas actually climbed down from the most recent public set-to, referring to her earlier criticism of Ratas' participation in the Estonian version of "Strictly Come Dancing" as "totally pointless" and expressing regret that his wife, a non-politician, had tangentially gotten caught up in the controversy.

The full Postimees analysis piece, by Mikk Salu, is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Postimees

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