In a move that surprised many in terms of its smoothness and speed, the Head of the Estonian National Museum Alar Karis was last week elected as the President of the Republic in just the second round of voting – albeit in an election in which he was the only candidate. The election was just one of a handful of cases in Estonia's history that avoided multiple rounds of voting (by comparison, his predecessor Kersti Kaljulaid was elected after six rounds). Only past heavyweights of Estonian politics such as Lennart Meri (the first post-Soviet era leader of the country) and the late Toomas Hendrik Ilves have managed better results than Karis – although neither enjoyed his luxury of an unchallenged run for office.
The unexpectedly smooth process, however, is indicative more of an efficient working of the ruling coalition rather than of the authority and blanket support for the newly elected President. It is yet to be seen if Mr Karis will create a lasting legacy in the Estonian political landscape.
We take a deeper look at the background to the election and what challenges the Karis Presidency will face in the run-up to the 2023 parliamentary elections.