Estonia Replaces President Who Helped Sink Last Government

Estonia Replaces President Who Helped Sink Last Government

Estonia elected a new president after parliament failed to re-nominate the incumbent, who contributed to the downfall of the previous government.

Alar Karis, a 63-year-old academic, will take over the mostly ceremonial post from Kersti Kaljulaid, who’d been the European Union member state’s first woman president and was a thorn in the side of the ruling coalition that collapsed in January amid a corruption probe.

Kaljulaid had repeatedly objected to the presence in that alliance of a junior party that touted openly far-right views and offended foreign allies. While it’s not part of the current administration, ex-Prime Minister Juri Ratas’s Center Party is, and didn’t support Kaljulaid’s bid for a second five-year term.

Backed by the governing coalition, Karis won the votes of 72 of parliament’s 101 lawmakers on Tuesday, having failed to garner a sufficient quantity in a first ballot a day earlier.

As president, he’ll play a limited role in the Baltic country of 1.3 million people. His powers will include being able to return legislation to parliament if it contradicts the constitution, call snap elections under certain circumstances and veto some appointments.

Karis, who’s said he wants to turn Estonia into the world’s most-educated country, is currently the director of the national museum. He’s previously worked as a researcher in cellular biology and in the cloning of mice, and has served as a university rector and head of the national audit office.

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