Monday May 27, 2024

Surprise candidate voted Estonia´s first woman president

October 03, 2016

TALLINN: Estonia´s parliament on Monday elected surprise candidate Kersti Kaljulaid as the first woman president of the tech-savvy Baltic state, breaking a month-long political stalemate.

The non-aligned 46-year-old member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for keeping watch over EU finances, won the support of 81 of Estonia´s 101 members of parliament.

A mother of four and a grandmother, Kaljulaid will take over as NATO nation´s fifth president since independence in 1991 as Tallinn gears up for the EU´s rotating six-month presidency next July.

The head of state plays a largely ceremonial role in the eurozone country of 1.3 million people and is elected by parliament or electoral college rather than direct public vote.

Women´s right are already highly developed in Estonia, but Kaljulaid´s election is still seen as an important first.

Her background as an auditor is likely to go down well in the fiscally conservative nation.

With its debt-to-GDP ratio hovering around 10 percent, Tallinn has long insisted other eurozone members ought to adopt its strict fiscal discipline.

Kaljulaid was nominated last week as a dark horse candidate after favourites, including former foreign minister Marina Kaljurand and former prime minister and European commissioner Siim Kallas, failed to win in two previous rounds of voting in August and September.

Although Kaljulaid has had a successful international career over the last 12 years as an EU auditor, she is not a household name in Estonia.

Known for his sharp tongue and fondness of bow-ties and tweeting, Ilves gave the role a strong international dimension due to his flair for foreign affairs.

A trained biologist specialising in genetics, Kaljulaid also also holds an MBA from University of Tartu.