Gallery: New Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition ministers announced
The Reform Party, the senior partner in the incoming coalition, has confirmed its ministerial line-up, following a press conference Saturday lunchtime.
Party leader Kaja Kallas is to return as prime minister, as expected, and, while Kallas expressed a preference for the other two party leaders to also be in office in the government, added that ultimately it is up to the coalition partner.
The Social Democrats (SDE) leader Lauri Läänemets is reported to be returning as interior minister, though this is not confirmed by the party yet; Eesti 200's leader, Lauri Hussar, has been reported as heading for the post of Riigikogu speaker.
The two smaller parties are due to announce their ministerial rosters at a press conference starting 4 p.m. Saturday, Estonian time.
Prime minister: We merged some ministries
Meanwhile at the Reform Party press conference, the prime minister stated that the new coalition will have two ministers fewer than its predecessor, a move which, together with other ministerial reform, should bring savings, she said.
"We are actually merging ministries. There will be a new ministry of climate and living environment (Estonian: Kliima- ja elukeskkonnaministeerium), to which some aspects of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications will be transferred," Kallas said at Saturday's press conference.
"Plus a new regional ministerial post, where the minister of public administration will disappear from the ministry of finance remit, and the minister of IT and foreign trade post will disappear from the ministry of economic affairs and communications area. We will then consolidate these processes under two ministries. This will certainly be challenging, but we have to meet the challenges we have at the moment," the prime minister went on.
The full content of the coalition agreement signed between Reform, Eesti 200 and SDE will also be presented at a press conference later on Saturday.
Reform has seven posts, SDE and Eesti 200 three each
Reform has seven posts (including the prime minister) in the new administration, while Eesti 200 and SDE have three apiece.
While media reports earlier in the day cited different names for one or two ministerial posts, the following is the official lineup of Reform's ministers, as presented by Kaja Kallas:
- Minister of Social Protection – Signe Riisalo,
- Minister of Defense – Hanno Pevkur,
- Minister of Justice – Kalle Laanet,
- Minister of Finance – Mart Võrklaev,
- Minister of Culture – Heidy Purga,
- Minister of Climate – Kristen Michal.
Of these, Riisalo and Pevkur are returning to the same post they occupied in the outgoing Reform-SDE-Isamaa administration, Laanet, a former defense minister, is returning to a different portfolio, Võrklaev and Purga are first-time ministers, and Michal is taking on a newly-created position.
Eesti 200 won its first ever Riigikogu seats, 14 of them, on March 5 and is now entering coalition for the first time as well.
The party's chair, Lauri Hussar, a former Postimees editor-in-chief, is not going to be a government minister, but instead is nominated for the highly significant post of Riigikogu speaker, more properly, president of the Riigikogu.
The three ministers meanwhile are:
- Minister of Foreign Affairs – Margus Tsahkna,
- Minister of IT and Economic Affairs – Tiit Riisalo,
- Minister of Education and Research – Kristina Kallas.
Tsahkna is a former defense minister (with Isamaa, or IRL as it then was). Tiit Riisalo is another ex-IRL man and was the party's secretary general 2012-2015.
Kristina Kallas was a co-founder of Eesti 200 and was the party's leader until last October.
Lauri Hussar: With the new coalition agreement, we will fix Estonia
Lauri Hussar said of the new agreement that it will "fix" Estonia and, perhaps fittingly given the party's name, looks to a longer perspective than the usual five to 10 years he said is generally the case with coalition agreements (Eesti 200 was founded in 2018, the year of EV100, ie. the centennial of Estonian independence-ed.).
"This agreement states that we will fix Estonia," Hussar said Saturday.
"Unfortunately, over the past five or six years, something of an irresponsible budget policy has been cultivated in Estonia. There are also objective criteria; these are related to the various crises, which have worsened the budgetary position, but also the many promises of 'free things', which led to a major budgetary deficit," he went on.
As to Eesti 200 representing the arrival of the cavalry, Hussar said: "We can't continue in this way. We will have to review our expenses. The coalition agreement includes a zero (ie. balanced-ed.) budget, and we will review all expenses, as to how justified they are. Where necessary, we will have to make cuts, but if all this is of no help, then we anticipated tax rises."
Education, energy, forestry and state governance are areas where the long game is being played, he added, while what he called a new concept, the formation of a personalized state, has also been created via the agreement with Reform and SDE.
The latter will be under the auspices of one of the new, amalgamated ministerial posts, set up as part of the cuts implementation and under Eesti 200's aegis, via Tiit Riisalo, to be minister of IT and economic affairs.
It will spell automated services, a shredding of bureaucracy and needs-based support, while all labor market issues formerly the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs will also be brought under this new ministry, Hussar added.
SDE's three ministers are reported as:
- Minister of Health – Riina Sikkut,
- Minister of Regional and Rural affairs – Madis Kallas,
- Minister of the Interior– Lauri Läänemets.
Läänemets is returning to the post he held in the last administration, while Riina Sikkut was health minister 2018-2019. Madis Kallas was environment minister in the last coalition, and his new post is one of the newly-amalgamated positions.
Please note that the official English titles of the new ministerial posts are yet to be confirmed, though a binomial ministry name ("the ministry for X and Y") would be par for the course.
Reform will get next European commissioner
Reform's Riigikogu group will be headed up by Erkki Keldo at the XV Riigikogu, while Liina Kersna and Yoko Alender will be vice-chairs.
Reform will also hold the first deputy Riigikogu speaker, with Toomas Kivimägi nominated; outgoing Minister of Finance Annely Akkermann will chair the Riigikogu's finance committee, while Marko Mihkehlson will return as foreign affairs committee chair.
Urmas Kruuse will chair the Riigikogu's rural affairs committee. Kruuse was rural affairs minister in the last administration; as noted this post has been dispensed with and amalgamated into a new ministerial position.
Jürgen Ligi will chair the Riigikogu's special committee for the supervision of security institutions.
Reform is reportedly also set to provide the next European Commissioner from Estonia, and will have the vice-chair posts of the Riigikogu's special anti-corruption committee and it special committee on state budget control.
Editor's note: This article was updated to include comments from Lauri Hussar.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov