Estonia’s new cabinet was formally approved on November 3 by president Lennart Meri and is scheduled to be sworn in today. Classified as "center-right," the cabinet consists of six ministers from the Coalition party, three from the Rural Union–who were partners in the former cabinet– and six from the Reform Party, their new ally. Estonia’s foreign partners will note that the former cabinet’s prime minister Tiit Vahi, European affairs minister Endel Lippmaa, and defense minister Andrus Oovel (all from the Coalition party) are among seven ministers who retain their posts. Reform Party leader Siim Kallas becomes first deputy prime minister and foreign minister. In confirming the cabinet, Meri instructed it to watch developments in Russia, where "forces in Russia interested in restoring the Soviet Union in its former borders appear to be gaining in strength;" and to counter such attempts by integrating Estonia in the European Union and NATO and by accelerating the country’s economic development. (10)
The former cabinet withdrew in early October over a wiretapping scandal involving then-first deputy prime minister Edgar Savisaar, whose Center Party has been replaced by the Reform Party in the governing coalition. The three governing parties now hold 60 out of the parliament’s 100 seats, and can count on support from other Estonian parties on major issues. Parliament is only seven months into its term. The outlook is for political stability and policy continuity.