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article imageEstonian president to task Kallas with forming new government

By AFP     Apr 3, 2019 in World

Estonia's president will on Friday task liberal Reform party leader Kaja Kallas with forming a new government, a month after an inconclusive general election made tricky coalition building inevitable.

Kallas's party won the March 3 vote -- in which five parties entered parliament -- but she failed to forge a majority coalition with the outgoing premier's runner-up mainstream Centre party.

This left both Kallas, a 41-year-old lawyer and former MEP, and outgoing centre-left prime minister Juri Ratas free to seek other partners to govern with.

"On Friday... President Kersti Kaljulaid will meet the Reform Party chairwoman Kaja Kallas and task her with forming the government," the president's spokeswoman Mailin Aasmae told reporters Wednesday.

If Kallas accepts, she will have two weeks to present the parliament with her proposed government.

If the bid fails, the centrist president will have to choose a new candidate for prime minister.

Kallas said last month that she would opt for talks with the Social Democrats party, which placed fifth in the election.

Ratas for his part has been holding talks with the far-right anti-EU EKRE and the conservative Isamaa party, which placed third and fourth respectively.

Analyst Rein Toomla believes "it is unlikely that Kaja Kallas could form a majority government... The hope to form a minority government is also slim."

"A Centre-Isamaa-EKRE coalition now seems more certain," the Tartu University lecturer told AFP.

He added, however, that Estonian ruling coalitions generally do not last longer than some two years.

That being the case, "Kallas can expect a new coalition led by her to be formed -- albeit slightly further down the road."

Bread-and-butter issues such as taxation and public spending dominated the election in the ex-Soviet state of 1.3 million people known for its IT savvy.

Joblessness hovers at just under five percent in the EU and NATO member country, while economic growth is expected to slow to 2.7 percent this year from 3.9 percent in 2018.

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