Jüri Ratas' second cabinet
|Jüri Ratas' second cabinet|
50th Cabinet of Estonia
|Date formed||29 April 2019|
|Date dissolved||14 January 2021|
|People and organisations|
|Head of state||Kersti Kaljulaid|
|Head of government||Jüri Ratas|
|No. of ministers||15|
|Total no. of members||23|
|Member parties||Centre Party|
Conservative People's Party
|Opposition parties||Reform Party|
|Predecessor||Jüri Ratas' first cabinet|
|Successor||Kaja Kallas' cabinet|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
Jüri Ratas' second cabinet was the 50th cabinet of Estonia, in office from 29 April 2019 to 14 January 2021. It was a centre-right coalition cabinet of the Centre Party, right-wing populist Conservative People's Party and conservative Isamaa.
Following the defeat for the sitting Ratas' first cabinet at the 2019 elections and the loss of majority in the parliament Centre Party initiated coalition talks with the third largest Conservative People's Party and fourth largest Isamaa. Although the election-winning Reform party offered to form a coalition with Jüri Ratas' Centre Party, Ratas turned down the offer. This left the winners of the elections, Reform Party, with no chance to form a majority cabinet. Leader of the Reform Party, Kaja Kallas, however went on to propose a minority cabinet formed by the Reform and Social Democrats, but it did not gain the necessary number of votes in the parliament. Coalition partners nonetheless faced three rebel MPs with Centre MP Raimond Kaljulaid quitting the Centre Party in protest against the inclusion of EKRE in the coalition.
On 17 April 2019, the new cabinet got approval of Riigikogu with the support of 55 out of 101 MPs with one Isamaa rebel MP and former Centre MP Kaljulaid voting against with the opposition.
Ratas resigned on the evening of 12 January 2021 as a result of the Porto Franco corruption scandal and the government as a whole resigned on 14 January. The cabinet continued to act as a caretaker government until the Kaja Kallas' cabinet was sworn in on 26 January.
Incidents and controversies
Ratas had previously ruled out forming a coalition with EKRE during the election campaign because of differences between their views.
"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."— 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.
The cabinet faced criticism for having only two women, Centre Mailis Reps and Isamaa Riina Solman, with Conservative People's Party fielding a full male line-up for their portfolios. Conservative People's later also named a female minister, Kert Kingo, after the resignation of Marti Kuusik.
Freedom of speech
A public debate on freedom of speech started after controversial actions by the new cabinet parties. On 28 March 2019 Conservative People's proposed new Minister of Finance, Martin Helme, demanded that Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) would ban and punish journalists who had criticised his party. On 22 April journalist Vilja Kiisler left Postimees, one of the biggest newspapers in Estonia, due to differences with the paper’s newly appointed editor-in-chief on her op-ed about the policies of the Conservative People’s Party. The editor-in-chief Peeter Helme is the nephew of the leader of the Conservative People’s Party Mart Helme and the newspaper is owned by a member and financier of the third government party Pro Partia. On 26 April journalist Ahto Lobjakas announced quitting the ERR where, he said, he was given a choice between self-censorship and leaving. On the swearing-in of the new cabinet president Kersti Kaljulaid wore a sweatshirt emblazoned with the slogan Sõna on vaba (the word/speech is free) as a statement of the importance of the freedom of speech.
On 14 May 2019, Minister of the Interior Mart Helme accused ERR's United States correspondent Maria-Ann Rohemäe of deceiving and lying. ERR responded with public statement in support of their journalist and condemning attacks against journalists.
"OK" hand gesture
Conservative People's Party of Estonia Mart Helme Minister of the Interior and his son Minister of Finance Martin Helme caused some controversy by publicly flashed the "OK" hand gesture which is a hand signal that has been come to be seen as a white supremacist symbol. MP Jaak Madison commented afterwards that the symbols were used as "pure trolling" in order to rile the media and the party’s opponents.
Resignation of Marti Kuusik
In the next morning after the elections Conservative People's proposed new Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Marti Kuusik was caught by the police speeding (74 km/h in 50 km/h zone) and driving under the influence. Both prime minister Jüri Ratas and Conservative People's Party stated that they do not see this as a reason to replace Kuusik.
On 29 April 2019, reports emerged of alleged history of Kuusik's domestic violence including breaking his wife's arm bone twice. Kuusik denied the accusations. Following the emergency meeting with Kuusik and Conservative People's delegation Ratas decided that there is no need to replace Kuusik and that he can take the oath of office. Before Kuusik took the oath president Kaljulaid left the room, leaving Kuusik to bow for the empty seat. Kaljulaid promised to be the first to apologize to Kuusik should the accusations not be true.
On the same day, a criminal investigation was launched to determine whether the accusations were true. On 30 April 2019 the Director General of the Police and the Prosecutor General gave Ratas an overview of the collected evidence after which Ratas handed over Kuusk's letter of resignation to the President. Kuusk denied all the accusations reasoning that he resigns to ensure the stability of the government and to protect his family while focusing on disproving the accusations. Chairman of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia Mart Helme heavily criticized the ousting of Kuusik, calling it a witch hunt.
The Conservative Party struggled to find a nominee with a number of people declining the offer. Finally two weeks after Kuusik's resignation Kert Kingo was appointed as a replacement for Kuusik.
Resignation of Kert Kingo
On 25 October 2019, Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo resigned after being caught lying in front of the Riigikogu about the appointment of her new adviser who had posted sexually offensive remarks in Facebook. On 2 November 2019 Kaimar Karu was appointed as a replacement for Kingo.
Dismissal of Mart Järvik
On 25 November 2019, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas proposed the dismissal of the Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik after a commission of inquiry led by the Secretary of State Taimar Peterkop had found that Järvik had exceeded his authority and made inconsistent statements regarding findings of Listeria bacteria at a fish packing plant. After Järvik's dismissal by the President, he was followed in the position by Arvo Aller.
Recalling of Kaimar Karu
On the morning of 17 April 2020, Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Kaimar Karu announced on social media that the chairman of the Conservative People's Party Mart Helme has recalled him from the government. Helme accused Karu for not respecting party values, including their anti immigration views. Karu had been under strain for not supporting changes made to the Aliens Act. Raul Siem was appointed as a replacement for Karu.
Resignation of Rene Kokk
On 4 November 2020, Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk resigned on health reasons, both Jüri Ratas and Martin Helme stressed that his resignation had nothing to do with the unfinished forestry development plan. On 12 November, Rain Epler was confirmed as the new minister. Epler does not believe that the global warming is primarily caused by human activity and supports nuclear power.
Resignation of Mart Helme
On 9 November 2020, Minister of the Interior Mart Helme, a supporter of Donald Trump, resigned due to political pressure after he and his son, Minister of Finance, Martin Helme had in their weekly radio show called 2020 United States presidential elections fraudulent, rigged by the "deep state" and US president elect Joe Biden a corrupt character. On 18 November 2020, Alar Laneman was confirmed as the new minister.
Resignation of Mailis Reps
On 20 November 2020, Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps resigned due to the media criticism on her usage of the official ministerial vehicles for her personal purposes. She was replaced by Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab, with Anneli Ott inheriting Aab's former post.
The coalition agreed to continue with fifteen portfolios equally allocated between the parties with each party holding five.
- Kaimar Karu represented EKRE as an independent politician.
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Jüri Ratas' first cabinet
| Government of Estonia
Kaja Kallas' cabinet