Museum director Alar Karis elected President of Estonia – Robb Report


Estonia has found its new president in a place far outside the political arena: the art world. Alar Karis, the director of Estonian National Museum in Tartu, was elected head of the country. He was the only person to run for the mostly ceremonial post and was named the winner with 72 out of 101 votes in the Estonian parliament of the Riigikogu. When Karis takes office on October 11, he will be Estonia’s sixth president, replacing Kersti Kaljulaid.

Since 2018, Karis has been director of the Estonian National Museum, which hosts exhibitions and facilitates research focused on daily life in the country, the Estonian diaspora and Finno-Ugric cultures. Much of his career before that had been in academia as a molecular geneticist and developmental biologist, with positions at the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the University of Tartu.

Karis is from Tartu, the second largest city in Estonia. This is not his first government go-around, however. Between 2013 and 2018, he was the country’s general auditor.

Prior to his presidential campaign, Karis had not sat in the Estonian Parliament. His election on Tuesday came after a first round on Monday, when he failed to secure the 68 votes from Riigikogu members needed to win the presidency. (He was the only candidate in both votes.)

Karis had announced his intention to campaign for the post just a few weeks ago, and was initially supported by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and her Reform Party as well as the Center Party, which constitutes the center-right coalition. who controls the government. . According to Associated PressKaris was then backed by the Social Democrats and the more conservative Fatherland Party on Tuesday, which allowed him to garner enough votes to secure the post.

“I want to thank everyone who voted for me, as well as those who didn’t,” Karis said in a statement. “I promise to be a good Riigikogu partner. Thank you so much.”

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