Jüri Ratas

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Jüri Ratas
Jüri Ratas 2017-05-25 (cropped).jpg
Official portrait, 2017
President of the Riigikogu
Assumed office
18 March 2021
Preceded byHenn Põlluaas
18th Prime Minister of Estonia
In office
23 November 2016 – 26 January 2021
PresidentKersti Kaljulaid
Preceded byTaavi Rõivas
Succeeded byKaja Kallas
Leader of the Centre Party
Assumed office
5 November 2016
Preceded byEdgar Savisaar
Mayor of Tallinn
In office
15 November 2005 – 5 April 2007
Preceded byTõnis Palts
Succeeded byEdgar Savisaar
Personal details
Born (1978-07-02) 2 July 1978 (age 43)
Tallinn, Estonia
Political partyCentre
Spouse(s)Karin Ratas
Alma materTallinn University of Technology

Jüri Ratas (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈjy.ri ˈrɑ.tɑs]; born 2 July 1978) is an Estonian politician who was the 18th prime minister of Estonia from 2016 to 2021. He has been Leader of the Centre Party since 2016, and was the mayor of Tallinn from 2005 to 2007.

Jüri Ratas' first cabinet was in office from 23 November 2016 to 29 April 2019. It formed when Social Democrats and the Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica joined the opposition's no-confidence vote against the previous cabinet and switched the liberal centre-right Reform Party with the Estonian Centre Party.

Jüri Ratas' second cabinet was active from April 2019 to January 2021. It has been notable for its share of public scandals, resignations of ministers and the number of public apologies from Ratas, mostly connected to the activities of the nationalist and right-wing populist EKRE party, a coalition member.[1][2] His tenure has also seen the national budget of Estonia moving to deficit after years of being in surplus.[3] According to a national poll conducted in November 2019, Ratas was the preferred person for the seat of the prime minister in the country for 36% of voters, the highest in the poll.[4] In January 2020 his coalition was supported by a quarter of the electorate.[5]

Ratas resigned as prime minister on 13 January 2021 after the prosecutor general of Estonia suspected the Centre Party of "criminal involvement" in an influence peddling scandal involving businessman Hillar Teder. Ratas stated that he had no knowledge of the alleged affair and had committed no wrongdoing, but resigned to take political responsibility for the scandal. He remained as the head of a caretaker government until a new coalition was formed. On 26 January, Ratas' second cabinet was superseded by Kaja Kallas' cabinet.


He acted as the vice-president of the Riigikogu from 2007 to 2016 and Mayor of Tallinn from 2005 to 2007, attaining the post at age 27. As a mayor of Tallinn he initiated the European Green Capital Award programme.[6]

In the 2015 Estonian parliamentary election, Ratas was re-elected to the parliament with 7,932 individual votes.[7] In March he was elected as the second deputy speaker of the Riigikogu.[8]

On 5 November 2016, Ratas was elected to succeed Edgar Savisaar as the leader of the Centre Party.[9] After Taavi Rõivas' second cabinet split in November 2016 due to internal struggle, coalition talks began between Centre Party, Social Democratic Party, and Pro Patria and Res Publica Union.[10]


Ratas with Boris Johnson

On 19 November, the three parties agreed on the conditions of Ratas' first cabinet.[11] Ratas was sworn in as the prime minister of Estonia on 23 November.[12][13]

After 2019 parliamentary election, Ratas turned down an offer from the liberal, election-winning Reform Party for coalition and instead entered into talks with the conservative Isamaa and the often-considered as far-right, EKRE. On 17 April, Riigikogu granted Ratas the authority to form the government and remain Prime Minister.[14] These talks resulted in the formation of Ratas' second cabinet in April 2019.

During his tenure, the national budget of Estonia went into deficit after years of being in surplus. This drew widespread criticism, notably from the European Commission and the Estonian Central Bank.[15][16]

On 9 March 2018, after Poland's referral to the European Court of Justice, leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia expressed their support for Poland over the Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. Ratas said that "Any problems related to voting and taking away the right to vote – I do not think that it should happen at all, it would be a step too far."[17]

Coalition formation controversy of 2019[edit]

In the elections of 2019, the party of Ratas, the Estonian Centre Party, lost support while the oppositional, liberal Estonian Reform Party, gained support and became the largest party by parliament seats in Estonia. After the elections, Ratas turned down an offer by the Reform party for coalition talks and entered into talks with Isamaa and EKRE, the latter being widely considered a far-right party. Ratas had previously ruled out forming a coalition with EKRE during the election campaign because of its hostile views.[18]

When I said before that it would be impossible for me to cooperate with a political party which cuts heads off, doesn't agree to certain nationalities or races, then EKRE has indeed said those things.[18]

— Ratas talking about EKRE in November 2018, widely interpreted as ruling out a coalition with EKRE.

The subsequent reversal of his stance and the inclusion of EKRE by Ratas in coalition talks after the elections was met with local and international criticism. In a poll conducted after the start of the coalition talks, the party of Jüri Ratas further lost support.[19][20]

The critics of the decision have claimed that Ratas is willing to sacrifice his party's values, the confidence of his voters and the stability and reputation of the country to keep his position as prime minister. Ratas has countered that his first duty is to look for ways to get his party included in the government to be able to work in the benefit of his voters and that the coalition would continue to firmly support the EU, NATO and would be sending out messages of tolerance.[21][22][23]

Some key members and popular candidates of the party of Ratas have been critical of the decision, with Raimond Kaljulaid leaving the party in protest. Yana Toom, a member of the party and its representative in the European Parliament expressed criticism of the decision. Mihhail Kõlvart, popular among the Russian-speaking voters and the newly-elect mayor of Tallinn, has said the Centre party cannot govern with EKRE's approach.[24][25][26]

The decision was also criticized by Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the ALDE group in the European Parliament where The Centre Party of Ratas is a member, suggesting that Ratas should break off coalition talks with the national-conservative EKRE. Ratas responded in the Estonian media that "Brussels should not dictate to us what our coalition should be like."[27][28]

When on the third week of coalition talks, Martin Helme of EKRE accused gynaecologists of violating their Hippocratic Oath by performing abortions, Ratas demanded the party to stop accusing doctors – with this being the first public criticism of EKRE by Ratas after the start of the coalition talks.[29]

On 17 April, Riigikogu voted in favor of granting Ratas the authority to form the government.[14]

Ratas resigned as prime minister on 13 January 2021 after the Prosecutor General suspected the Centre Party of "criminal involvement" in an influence peddling scandal involving businessman Hillar Teder.[30] Ratas stated that he had no knowledge of the alleged affair and had committed no wrongdoing, but chose to resign to take political responsibility for the scandal. He remained as the head of a caretaker government until a new coalition was formed.[31] On 25 January 2021 Kaja Kallas formed an Estonian Reform Party-led coalition government with the Estonian Centre Party.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Ratas was born in Tallinn, Estonia.[33] His father is Centre Party politician Rein Ratas.[34] He attended secondary school in Nõmme. He graduated in Business Management from Tallinn University of Technology and obtained a master's degree in Economic Sciences from the same university. He also holds a bachelor's degree in Law from the University of Tartu.[35]

Ratas is married; he has a daughter and three sons.[36]

Ratas regards himself to be a believer and has completed the Alpha course at St. Olaf's Church.[37] Although in the press he has been described as a baptist,[38] he has denied this.[39] Apart from the Estonian language, Ratas is fluent in English and has an understanding of Russian, Swedish and Portuguese. He began learning Russian in early 2017.[40]

His hobbies include chess, reading and horse riding.[41]


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]


  1. ^ ERR, Elo Ellermaa | (16 August 2019). "Ratas ei pea puhkenud skandaali valitsuskriisiks". ERR (in Estonian). Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Estonia Government Nears Collapse After Nationalist Party Targets Police Chief". Bloomberg.com. 16 August 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2021 – via www.bloomberg.com.
  3. ^ "Kuhu kadus riigi raha? Riigieelarve suur puudujääk ja kärped on hoiatuste eiramise tagajärg". Ärileht. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  4. ^ "PEAMINISTRIUURING | Jüri Ratase sobivus peaministriks püstitas rekordi". Eesti Päevaleht. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  5. ^ "KOALITSIOONIUURING | Praegust võimuliitu toetab kõigest veerand valijaid". Eesti Päevaleht. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  6. ^ ec.europa.eu https://web.archive.org/web/20100727131249/http://ec.europa.eu/environment/europeangreencapital/about_submenus/background.html. Archived from the original on 27 July 2010. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Riigikogu valimised 2015: Detailne hääletamistulemus". Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Eiki Nestor re-elected as Parliament Speaker, Seeder and Ratas as deputies". ERR. 30 March 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Jüri Ratas elected chairman of the Center Party". ERR. 5 November 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Prime Minister loses no confidence vote, forced to resign". ERR. 9 November 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  11. ^ "Coalition agreement ready, ministries distributed". ERR. 19 November 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  12. ^ "49th cabinet of Estonia sworn in under Prime Minister Jüri Ratas". ERR. 23 November 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Estonian PM invites far-right to join cabinet". Reuters. 12 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019 – via www.reuters.com.
  14. ^ a b "Riigikogu backs Centre-EKRE-Isamaa coalition, Ratas to remain PM". ERR. 17 April 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  15. ^ ERR, Mart Linnart (21 March 2019). "Keskpanka teeb majandustõusu ajal tekkinud riigieelarve puudujääk murelikuks". ERR.
  16. ^ "Euroopa Komisjon: Eesti defitsiit on ebameeldiv üllatus". Äripäev.
  17. ^ "Baltic states against EU sanctions on Poland EURACTIV.com". www.euractiv.com. 13 March 2018.
  18. ^ a b ERR (22 November 2018). "Ratas peab koalitsiooni EKRE-ga võimatuks". ERR. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Kõlvart: erakonna püsimine on tähtsam kui olemine opositsioonis". Poliitika. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  20. ^ "Uuring: valijad eelistavad kõike muud kui Keskerakonna-EKRE-Isamaa liitu". Poliitika. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  21. ^ "Jüri Ratase ränk solvumine: Keskerakonna esimees on võimu nimel kõigeks valmis". Eesti Ekspress. 16 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  22. ^ "Keskerakond ei nõustu Reformierakonna ühiskondlikku ebavõrdsust suurendava ettepanekuga - Keskerakond". keskerakond.ee. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  23. ^ "Jüri Ratas: "See küsimus on juba eos vale"". Poliitika. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  24. ^ ERR, Mait Ots (12 March 2019). "Kaljulaid ERR-ile: enne lõhenegu Keskerakond, kui EKRE võimule aidatakse". ERR. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  25. ^ ERR (11 March 2019). "Toom: ma ei näe EKRE-s väärilist partnerit". ERR. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  26. ^ ERR, ERR (12 March 2019). "Kõlvart on EKRE's views: We cannot govern with their approach". ERR. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  27. ^ "Ratas: Brüssel ei peaks Eestile ette kirjutama, missugune on meie uus koalitsioon". Postimees. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  28. ^ ERR (13 March 2019). "Guy Verhofstadt implores Jüri Ratas to call off EKRE talks". ERR. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  29. ^ ERR, ERR (22 March 2019). "Ratas to EKRE: Blaming gynaecologists, women must stop". ERR.
  30. ^ "A political crisis in Estonia: Prime minister Jüri Ratas resigns". Estonian World. 13 January 2021.
  31. ^ "Jüri Ratas resigns as prime minister following loan scandal". Eesti Rahvusringhääling. 13 January 2021.
  32. ^ "Kaja Kallas to become Estonia's first female prime minister". euronews. 24 January 2021. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  33. ^ "Juri Ratas is Estonia's new Prime Minister". 21 November 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  34. ^ "Peaminister Jüri Ratase perre sündis neljas laps". err.ee. 13 September 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  35. ^ "Prime Minister Jüri Ratas". Government of the Republic of Estonia. Archived from the original on 30 November 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  36. ^ "Jüri Ratas: I'm the prime minister and I dance to the republic's tune". Estonian news - news.postimees.ee. 21 December 2020. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  37. ^ "Oleviste koguduse vanempastor Siim Teekel annab Jüri Ratasele üle Piibli". Eesti Kirik. 20 April 2007. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  38. ^ "Tallinna linnapea Jüri Ratas on baptist". Delfi Publik. 23 December 2005. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  39. ^ "Vaata pikka intervjuud uue peaministriga". Eesti Televisioon. 23 November 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  40. ^ Scrutton, Alistair (24 February 2017). "Wary of divided loyalties, a Baltic state reaches out to its Russians". Reuters. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  41. ^ "Знакомьтесь, премьер-министр". dv.ee. 21 November 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2019.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Centre Party
Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Tallinn
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Estonia
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Riigikogu