Two SDE ministers have more advisers than other Estonian government members

Lauri Läänemets and Madis Kallas
Lauri Läänemets and Madis Kallas Source: ERR

Minister of the Interior and Social Democratic Party (SDE) Chair Lauri Läänemets, as well as Minister of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas (also SDE), have more advisers than the other members of the current Estonian government. Some of their advisers are employed on a part-time basis.

While other government ministers have two or three advisers, Minister of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas has six, four of whom work part-time. Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets has five.

Commenting on his number of advisers, Minister of the Interior and SDE Party Chair Lauri Läänemets referred to the broad scope of the ministry's work.

"I have not made a comparison of how many advisers other ministers have. I base the composition of my team primarily on actual needs. The Ministry of the Interior has the largest number of special advisers in the country, which is why the ministry is directly involved in absolutely every crisis that hits Estonia or could hit it," Läänemets said in a written comment.

Läänemets also pointed out that the ministry's areas of responsibility are wide ranging and have expanded further over the last year.

"Over the past year, our area of work has expanded even further, as we have finally been able to become more ambitious in our efforts to improve population protection. At the same time, cross-border challenges have further intensified regional and pan-European cooperation, which inevitably entails closer external communication," the interior minister added.

Läänemets dismissed suggestions that having a large number of advisers could be at odds with the government's aim of cutting costs.

"I have never found that cutting a team is in itself an indicator of management quality. Rather, the quality of management is determined by the competence and capability of that team. The size and composition of my team is based, firstly, on the need to ensure that different competences, background knowledge and experiences are represented in the team. And, secondly, on the need for the minister to be constantly available to the ministry, its government agencies and partners as well as, for example, journalists, to provide important and time-critical information," Läänemets said.

Minister of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas also explained the necessity of having two full-time and four part-time advisers, four in total, due to the range of responsibilities the ministry he heads has.

"The Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture has overall responsibility for agriculture, fisheries, regional policy and national public transport. I have selected my advisers on the basis of the principle of combining expertise in all the areas of importance to the ministry. Rather than hiring a full-time adviser to cover several issues, I have gone for the approach of having advisers with smaller workloads but focusing specifically on one issue. On the one hand, this ensures that there is a dedicated assistant for all topics and a contact for the relevant field and sector, and on the other hand, the workload is distributed between advisers more evenly," Kallas explained in a written comment.

Läänemets' advisers are Vootele Päi, who was a member of the Reform Party from 2010-2018, Kristen Kanarik, an SDE member since 2006, Eimar Veldre, who joined the SDE in February 2022, Maris Neeno, who became an SDE member in November 2022, and Ann-Marii Nergi, who is not affiliated with any political party.

Madis Kallas' full-time advisers are Neeme Suur, who has been a member of the SDE since 1998, and Oskar Lepik, who is not affiliated with a party. His part-time advisers are Marika Saar, an SDE member since 2012, and the non-affiliated trio of Birgit Sitska, Kristiina Maripuu and Kaja Piirfeldt.

As for the other members of the coalition government, Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) has two advisers and one assistant.

Minister of Justice Kalle Laanet (Reform) has two advisers.

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) has two advisers, one of whom is a command officer.

Minister of Culture Heidy Purga (Reform) has three advisers.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Information Technology Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200) has three advisers.

Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform) has two advisers.

Minister of Health Riina Sikkut (SDE) has two advisers.

Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform) has two advisers.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) has two advisers, one of whom is appointed by the ministry.

Minister of Climate Kristen Michal (Reform) has three advisers, one of whom is a scientific adviser.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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