First female president of Estonia takes office

Newly-elected Estonia's President Kersti Kaljulaid holds flowers after the vote in the country's Parliament in Tallinn, 3 October 3 2016. [Reuters]

Kersti Kaljulaid, 46, takes office today (10 October) as President of Estonia, becoming the country’s first female head of state.

The Estonian parliament last week elected Kaljulaid, 46, a former EU budget auditor, to succeed Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Kaljulaid received 81 votes in the election for the five-year presidential term, well above the two-thirds majority of 68 required.

The office is largely symbolic in the Baltic country although it gained weight after outgoing President Toomas Hendrik Ilves carved a role as an outspoken critic of Russia and a campaigner for government digitalisation and cybersecurity.

Kaljulaid is a former state official, serving as Estonia’s representative in the European Court of Auditors from 2004 until 2016.

Kaljulaid has defined herself as a liberal conservative. She has spoken in support of strong civil society with less state interference, whilst placing high importance on helping those in need. She holds liberal views on social issues such as LGBT rights and immigration.

Kaljulaid has a daughter and a son from her first marriage. She is also a grandmother.

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