Alar Karis elected president of Estonia

Järgmiseks Eesti presidendiks valitud Alar Karis. PHOTO: Mihkel Maripuu

Former Auditor General, Director of the Estonian National Museum Alar Karis was elected the next president of Estonia with 72 votes of the 68 required on Tuesday. Karis will take office as president in October.

The second round of voting in the 2021 presidential election saw Karis elected president between the ruling Reform Party and Center Party as well as votes from the opposition Isamaa and Social Democratic Party. Largest opposition force, the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) MPs abstained from voting in hopes of backing their candidate Henn Põlluaas should the election move to the Electoral College.

Karis promised to make his way into the hearts of members of different parties at a press conference following the election. “I will do my best for all political parties to listen to what I have to say and for me to listen to them. The president-elect said that the Estonian society needs sowing together and while he does not have a needle and thread, he will find the necessary tools. Karis also said that the presidential election system should be changed, either by making adjustments to the existing system or switching to electing the president directly.

Alar Karis was invited to a late lunch with President Kersti Kaljulaid in Kadriorg starting at 4 p.m.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas (Center) characterized Karis as a balanced influence, with Ratas saying that Karis’ election could lead to more knowledge-based decision-making processes.

EKRE leader Martin Helme said that Isamaa convincing its MPs to back Karis and the Social Democrats’ last-minute about-turn suggest the parties are trying to get a feel for a possible coalition with the Reform Party. Helme suggested there is no other logical explanation for two small opposition parties backing the ruling party’s candidate.