Formation of Estonian government following parliamentary election in March 2019

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Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 2019
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Reports and analyses of the process of government formation in Estonia, following an inconclusive legislative election on 3 March 2019 from which none of the competing political parties managed to acquire a parliamentary majority.

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The incumbent Centre party came second in the election (26 seats), runner-up to the Reform party (32 seats). The two parties would enjoy a parliamentary majority together, or otherwise by any of them teaming up with two other parties. The two leading forces engaged in talks following the election but later discussions collapsed over the rejection of the Centre party of a proposed arrangement put forward by the Reform party. Alternatively, the Centre party launched talks with right-wing Isamaa and EKRE for an alternative formula. The inclusion of the latter party - the third most voted party but seen by many as standing within right-wing extremism - was subject to criticism by political stakeholders in the country.

On 5 April, the Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid formally asked the leader of the winning party to form government. Reform party's Kaja Kallas launched talks with the Social Democrats (SDE) to form a coalition but faced reduced chances of gathering a parliamentary majority. On 8 April, a coalition agreement between the Centre party, Isamaa and EKRE was signed. This formula would theoretically kick in should the Reform party be unable to find a coalition cabinet with a majority in Parliament. The Reform party and the SDE reached an agreement on principles guiding a coalition cabinet on 13 April.

Following the rejection by Parliament of the proposed Reform-SDE coalition on 15 April, the Head of State formally asked the leader of the Centre party to form government. The coalition agreement previously signed with Isamaa and EKRE became effective and the proposed coalition government was endorsed by Parliament on 17 April. The cabinet was formally accepted by Ms Kaljulaid on 24 April.

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
Deutsche Welle, 13/03/2019: Far-right party deputy: 'We are the mainstream in Estonia'
Euro|topics, March 2019: Estonia's PM invites far right for talks
ERR News, 14/03/2019: Estonia not about to join Poland, Hungary
ECFR: Commentary, 21/03/2019: Estonia’s cold conservative spring
Euro|topics, April 2019: Estonia: coalition with far right agreed

Bloomberg, 11/03/2019: Shock Move Gives Populists a Chance at Government in Estonia
Reuters, 11/03/2019: Estonian PM invites far-right to join cabinet
ERR News, 12/03/2019: EKRE and Isamaa agree to Centre talks, SDE open to Reform cooperation
Postimees, 12/03/2019: Center opens door to EKRE
The Guardian, 13/03/2019: Estonian leader urged to break off coalition talks with far right
France24, 12/03/2019: Estonia's outgoing PM Ratas courts far right in power bid
ERR News, 14/03/2019: Guy Verhofstadt implores Jüri Ratas to call off EKRE talks
ERR News, 14/03/2019: Reform leader open to equal terms coalition talks with Centre
Postimees, 07/03/2019: Center to decide over launching coalition talks with Reform on Friday
France24, 03/04/2019: Estonian president to task Kallas with forming new government
ERR News, 05/04/2019: Reform chairwoman Kaja Kallas given task to form next government
Reuters, 05/04/2019: Estonia election winner downplays chance of becoming prime minister
Deutsche Welle, 07/04/2019: Estonia: Far right set to enter government for first time
ERR News, 08/04/2019: Centre, EKRE, Isamaa coalition deal signed into being
Bloomberg, 08/04/2019: Euroskeptic Nationalists Set to Enter Government in Estonia
ERR News, 08/04/2019: Proposed coalition nearly all-male, chock full of Eurosceptics, say rivals
Postimees, 08/04/2019: Chairs of Center Party, EKRE, Isamaa sign coalition deal
ERR News, 09/04/2019: Reform, SDE begin talks to seek common ground
France24, 15/04/2019: Estonia liberals fail to form government after hung polls
ERR News, 17/04/2019: Riigikogu backs Centre-EKRE-Isamaa coalition, Ratas to remain PM
Bloomberg, 23/04/2019: Hard-Line Nationalists Affirmed as Part of Estonia’s Cabinet

Estonian Presidency: Press Release, 16/04/2019: President Kaljulaid named Jüri Ratas to act as candidate for the position of Prime Minister
European Council: Press Release, 17/04/2019: Letter of congratulations from President Donald Tusk to Jüri Ratas on his re-appointment as Prime Minister of Estonia

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