June 2023 | Parliament approves same-sex marriage
Lawmakers in Estonia’s 101-seat parliament have approved amendments to the Family Act, with 55 votes in favour and 34 against, allowing for same-sex marriage. The country is now the first in Central Europe with such legislation. The law was pushed forward after the liberal coalition government led by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas took office in March. Although same-sex couples had won the right to enter into civil unions in 2014, the new law allows same-sex marriage and addresses legal loopholes that prevented same-sex couples from enjoying the same adoption and parental recognition rights as heterosexual couples. The new legislation will come into effect in 2024.
April 2023 | Prime Minister’s center-right Reform Party reaches government coalition agreement
About a month after the elections, the center-right Reform Party government has started its third term in Estonia, after securing a coalition deal with the centrist Eesti 200 Party and the Social Democratic Party. The Reform Party will lead seven ministries, including defence and finance. Eesti 200 and the Social Democrats will each have three ministerial portfolios. Prime Minister Kallas has been one of the biggest supporters of Ukraine and has said that security and defence will be the new government’s main priorities, including the defence expenditure increase to three per cent of the country’s GDP. Other priorities will be socio-economic issues, especially reducing fiscal deficits. Kallas is Estonia’s first female prime minister and she has held the position since 2021.
March 2023 | The ruling Reform Party secures first place in elections
The ruling center-right Reform Party secured first place in the country’s parliamentary elections, with 31 per cent of the vote. The elections were seen as a test for Estonia’s pro-EU direction and its stance on the war in Ukraine. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas campaigned on a pro-Ukraine platform, while far-right EKRE, which criticized accepting Ukrainian refugees and sending weapons to Ukraine, came second with 16 per cent. Apart from the national security concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, socio-economic issues and the rising cost of living are expected to be the main matters the new government will be addressing. Women’s representation in the Riigikogu set a new record, with 30 elected women, as compared to 28 in the 2019 elections. Voter turnout was at 63.5 per cent, similar to the 63.7 per cent in previous elections.