Kersti Kaljulaid is the incumbent and first female President of Estonia. She assumed the office on 10 October 2016. In the past, Kaljulaid has been an Estonian representative in the European Court of Auditors.
Early Life and Education
Kersti Kaljulaid was born on 30 December 1969 in Tartu, Estonia. For early education, she went Tallinn Secondary School No. 44. Then, she joined the University of Tartu for an undergraduate degree in biology. Having completed the course in 1992, Kaljulaid went back to the University of Tartu for an MBA.
Now 47 years old, Kaljulaid is already married twice. Prior to marrying her second husband, she had a son and a daughter. The second husband, Georgi-Rene Maksimovski, and Kaljulaid have two sons together.
Prior to entering the Estonian politics, Kaljulaid has a brief business career. For one year, she worked as a sales manager for Esti Telefon and transferred to Hoipuanga Investeeringute AS as a project manager. Then, she did one year at Hansabank in 1998. Finally, the following year, Kaljulaid landed a long-term job as an economic advisor to Prime Minister. As PM left the office in 2002, Kaljulaid also moved on to Iru Power Plant as director. After two years, she again joined the administration as nation’s representative at the European Court of Auditors.
Kersti Kaljulaid ventured into formal Estonian politics in 2001 as a Pro Patria Union member. Then, she held several political offices such as European Court of Auditors (2002) and was even confirmed as the next head of PRAXIS Center for Policy Studies. Although she wasn’t able to work for PRAXIS, she did make her way into the post of chair at Development Monitoring Advisory Board.
Soon after working for Chancellery of Estonian Parliament, Kaljulaid was offered the proposal to take president’s office. As the Estonian Presidential elections had failed several times, the prominent leader at the parliament discussed and unanimously agreed to make that offer. Hence, she submitted her candidacy in September end. The Riigikogu parliament gave 81 out of 100 votes to Kaljulaid – she was an absolute favorite of the MPs.
As Kersti assumed the office, she started becoming criticized for being too inexperienced and unpopular. To all those comments, she replied modestly and has promised the Estonians a prosperous country. Likewise, she promises to become visible by presidential visits to different parts of the country. According to the recent polls, she has an approval rating of a surprising 73%.
- 2009: European of the Year
- 2014: Award of Unity
Trump and Kaljulaid
While Estonian President Kaljulaid is a liberal conservative, US President Donald Trump is arguably a populist but he also seems like a mixture of everything. Hence, the two leaders differ in political views. For example, Kaljulaid supports immigration but Trump is very much concerned about it and has even proposed extreme vetting of any immigrant. As a liberal, Kaljulaid is believed to support abortion, but Trump is pro-life.
To talk about the progress made by the two in US-Estonia ties, it can’t yet be said because she hasn’t been the office for long and still has talks to be conducted. However, she didn’t forget to congratulate Trump on his victory.