Kersti Kaljulaid
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Kersti Kaljulaid

Kersti Kaljulaid 5th president of estonia

5th president of estonia
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro 5th president of estonia
Countries Estonia Russia
Occupations Consultant Politician Film director
Type Business Film, Television, Stage and Radio Politics
Gender female
Birth 30 December 1969 (Tartu, Yurevsky Uyezd, Livonia Governorate, Russian Empire)
Politics independent politician, Pro Patria Union
Siblings: Raimond Kaljulaid
Spouse: Georgi-Rene Maksimovski
Kersti Kaljulaid
The details

Kersti Kaljulaid (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈkersti ˈkɑljulɑid̥]; born 30 December 1969) is an Estonian politician who is the fifth and current President of Estonia, in office since 10 October 2016. She is the first female head of state of Estonia since the country declared independence in 1918, as well as the youngest ever President, aged 46 at the time of her election.

Kaljulaid is a former state official, serving as Estonia's representative in the European Court of Auditors from 2004 until 2016. After several unsuccessful rounds of Estonian presidential elections in 2016, Kaljulaid was brought in as a "dark horse", and on 30 September 2016 she was nominated by the majority of parliamentary parties as a joint candidate for President of Estonia, as the only official candidate for that round. Kaljulaid was voted President of Estonia on 3 October 2016, by 81 votes with 17 abstainers.



In 1987, Kaljulaid graduated from Tallinn Secondary School no. 44. During her studies there, she was a member of the Students' Scientific Association, specializing in ornithology. In 1992, she graduated from University of Tartu cum laude as a biologist. She is a member of Estonian female student corporation, Filiae Patriae. In 2001, she graduated from the University of Tartu with an MBA in business management. Her thesis was titled as "Riigi poolt asutatud sihtasutuste juhtimissüsteemi täiustamine" or "The improvement of the management system of state-founded foundations" in English.

Besides Estonian, Kaljulaid is fluent in English, Finnish, French and to a certain extent, Russian.

University of Tartu Council seminar in 2015.

Business career

From 1996 to 1997 Kaljulaid was a sales manager in state-owned telecom Eesti Telefon and from 1997 to 1998 a project manager in Hoiupanga Investeeringute AS. From 1998 to 1999 she was employed in Hansabank's investment banking division Hansabank Markets. From 1999 to 2002, Kaljulaid worked as the economic advisor of Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar. From 2002 to 2004, she was the director of Iru Power Plant, a subsidiary of the state-owned energy company Eesti Energia. She was the first woman to lead a power plant in Estonia.

In 2004, when Estonia joined the European Union, Kaljulaid was appointed the country's representative at the European Court of Auditors. Since 2011, Kaljulaid has been the chairperson of the board of the University of Tartu.

Political career

Kaljulaid, her husband Georgi-Rene Maksimovski, outgoing President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, and his wife Ieva Ilves at Kaljulaid's inauguration, Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn, 10 October 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. She has often published opinion pieces in Estonian media, considering the position of Estonia in the European Union and on social and economical matters. Additionally, she has been a regular participant in political analysis programmes of Radio Kuku, e.g. "Keskpäevatund".

From 2001 to 2004, she was a member of the political party Pro Patria Union, a predecessor of the current Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, yet did not run in the elections.

As Kaljulaid's term as a member of the European Court of Auditors was due to end on 7 May 2016, she was confirmed as the next head of PRAXIS Center for Policy Studies in November 2015. Although the Estonian government should have proposed her replacement in the court by 7 February 2016, it still had not managed to do so by the end of her term, so she remained in the position.

On 19 September 2016, the freshly founded Development Monitoring Advisory Board at the Chancellary of Estonian Parliament voted Kaljulaid to be its chair.

After several failed rounds in the Estonian presidential elections in August through September 2016, a so-called "council of elders" of the Riigikogu, which included the representatives of all parliamentary parties, the speaker and vice-speakers, asked for Kaljulaid's consent and then proposed her as the only potential presidential candidate to be put before the members of the Riigikogu on 3 October 2016. Her candidacy was officially registered on 30 September. Riigikogu Speaker Eiki Nestor said that Kaljulaid undoubtedly had the required 68 votes from the 101-member Riigikogu, but the exact number remained to be seen. Ultimately her candidacy was supported by 90 Riigikogu MPs. She won the elections by 81 votes with 17 abstainers and no votes against her, while the only parliamentary party that had publicly declared not to support her was EKRE which had only 7 votes.

Kaljulaid with Petro Poroshenko.

The main objection raised repeatedly during her candidacy by media as well as politicians and street polls was her being relatively unknown, compared to the candidates that had participated in the campaign. She confronted the objection in her public letter and during several interviews by promising to become visible across the country, visiting different areas and talking to the people directly. In mid-October 2016, the first conducted survey showed Kaljulaid's approval rating at 73%.

In 2017, she became the first Estonian to be featured in the Forbes magazine's list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women, placed at 78th., and came twenty second among the most influential female political leaders.

Personal life

Kaljulaid has a daughter and a son from her first marriage. She is also a grandmother. Kaljulaid's second husband is Georgi-Rene Maksimovski; they have two sons.

Kaljulaid's half-brother, Estonian Centre Party politician Raimond Kaljulaid, is the Elder of Põhja-Tallinn district of the capital of Estonia, Tallinn.


  • EST Order of the National Coat of Arms - 1st Class BAR.png Collar of the Order of the National Coat of Arms, Estonia (10 October 2016).
  • FIN Order of the White Rose Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the White Rose, Finland (7 March 2017).
  • NLD Order of the Dutch Lion - Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion, Netherlands (12 June 2018).
  • ITA OMRI 2001 GC-GCord BAR.svg Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Italy (5 June 2018).


  • In 2009, European Movement Estonia awarded Kaljulaid with the European of the Year title.
  • In 2014, the Open Estonia Foundation awarded her the Award of Unity for her analyses and comments explaining the function of European Union for Estonian audiences.
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