Estonia elects 63-year old academic, scientist as president

Riga, Aug 31 (EFE).- Alar Karis, 63, an academic and director of the Estonian National Museum, was elected president of Estonia on Tuesday.

Seventy-two members of the 101-member Estonian parliament or Riigikogu voted for Karis.

He was elected in a second round of voting after he failed to gain the necessary 68 votes for election in the first round on Monday.

The new president, who will succeed Estonia’s first female head of state Kerti Kaljulaid in October, was born in the university town of Tartu and was educated as a molecular geneticist and developmental biologist.

He embarked on an academic career after graduating from the veterinary department of the Estonian University of Life Sciences in Tartu, becoming a professor there in 1999.

He served as rector at the Estonian University of Life Sciences from 2003-2007, and as rector of the University of Tartu from 2007-2012. Karis was appointed Estonia’s auditor general in March 2013 and, after completing his tenure, as director of the National Museum in October 2017.

In an interview with local media before his election, Karis referred to his academic background and said: “Estonia should be a smart and educated nation. Perhaps we should set ourselves the goal that the Estonian state could be the country with the most educated people. Not just to move into the top five educated nations, but to be number one in the world.”

The Estonian presidency is a largely symbolic role with limited powers to veto legislation, to nominate a new Prime Minister after elections or the fall of a government, as well as some freedom to represent Estonia and impact its foreign relations. EFE


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