Estonian lawmaker elects museum director as president in second try


Tallinn, Estonia-Estonian parliamentarians elected the director of a major national museum as the new president of the Baltic states in a second vote on Tuesday after refusing to appoint a member the day before.

Alar Karis, director of the Estonian National Museum, secured the support of 72 members of the 101-seat Riigikogu parliament, with eight members voting blank and the rest abstaining or abstaining. Charis was the only candidate in both rounds, but failed to achieve the two-thirds support needed for Monday’s secret ballot, or 68 votes.

“Thanks to everyone who voted for me and those who didn’t, I promise to be a good partner for Riigikogu,” said 63-year-old Charis in a short speech after the tally was released. Said in.

Former state auditors and university leaders will replace Estonia’s first female president, Kersti Kaljuride. She was unable to seek an additional five-year term because she was unable to obtain at least 21 members to propose her as a candidate.

Aral Charis
Former State Auditor and University President Alar Karis will give a speech on August 31, 2021 at the Estonian Parliament in Tallinn, Estonia. (Raul Mee / AP Photo)

Charis was seen as likely to be elected as Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’s Reform Party and the Center Party, which occupies 59 seats in Estonia’s central right coalition, supported him earlier this month.

Both parties praised Charis’ solid academic background as president of the University of Tartu, a major academic institution in Estonia, and his understanding of Estonian society.

At the beginning of Tuesday, two opposition parties, the Social Democratic Party and the conservative homeland, also supported Charis, basically guaranteeing his election.

Meanwhile, the right-wing populist EKRE party has decided that lawmakers will refrain from voting. The opposition was unable to recognize its presidential candidate.

The Prime Minister has the most power in the European Union and the 1.3 million NATO member states of Estonia, but the role of the president is primarily ceremonial, including representing the country and serving as national opinion leader. ..

However, the president’s authority includes being the commander-in-chief of the Estonian army, officially appointing members of the government, and signing laws to enable them. The president also has the power to reject the bill.

According to initial information from the government, Charis will take office on October 11. Born in Tartu, Estonia’s second largest city after the capital Tallinn, he is a molecular geneticist and a trained developmental biologist. He became a university professor in 1999 and was president of the University of Tartu from 2007 to 2012.

Jari Tanner

Associated Press