After the announcement by Ratas, who had led a three-party coalition with his left-leaning Center Party, the nationalist EKRE party and the conservative Fatherland party since April 2019, parties immediately started informal talks on cobbling together a new government.
On Thursday, the Reform Party said it would start official government formation talks with the Center Party. Together, the two parties would muster a comfortable majority at the 101-seat Riigikogu Parliament.
According to Estonian public broadcaster ERR, a new Cabinet could be sworn in on Jan. 25 under Kallas.
The government formation marks the second such attempt for Kallas, 43, in less than two years as she failed to bring about a Reform Party-led coalition after the March 2019 general election.
If successful, she would become the first female prime minister in the history of Estonia, which regained its independence in 1991 amid the collapse of the Soviet Union. A lawyer and former European Parliament lawmaker, she is the daughter of Siim Kallas, one of the Reform Party’s creators and a former prime minister.
Kallas has ruled out including the populist EKRE, the nation's third-largest party which runs on a nationalist, anti-immigration and anti-European Union agenda, in the new Cabinet, citing considerable differences in values. The pro-business and pro-entrepreneurship Reform Party defines itself on its website as “the leader of the liberal worldview in Estonia.”
Due to EKRE's strong rhetoric, Ratas' government was shaky from the start.
The EKRE leaders, Mart Helme and his son Martin Helme, caused Ratas' government several embarrassments with public statements that were seen as insulting to Estonia's international allies and which brought the government to the brink of collapse at least twice.
The nation of 1.3 million has been a member of the European Union and NATO since 2004.
FILE - In this file photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, Chairwoman of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas poses for a photo in Tallinn, Estonia. President Kersti Kaljulaid said Thursday Jan. 14, 2021, in a statement that Kaja Kallas would now have 14-days to put together a new Cabinet, after Prime Minister Juri Ratas stepped down in the wake of a corruption scandal. (AP Photo/Raul Mee, FILE)
Credit: Raul Mee
Credit: Raul Mee