Earlier this week, Estonia’s prime minister Andrus Ansip stepped down after nine years leading the tiny Baltic country of just 1.3 million.
His departure brings even more change to the Baltic states — Laimdota Straujuma became Latvia’s new prime minister in January following the resignation of Valdis Dombrovskis over the collapse of a supermarket roof near Riga, the Latvian capital, that killed 54 people.
Ansip and Dombrovskis share a lot in common, both in terms of politics and the policy trajectories of their governments.
Like Ansip, Dombrovskis stepped down having presided over difficult economic reforms that stabilized their country’s respective credit ratings and credibility with global debt markets and that helped unleash economic growth after the immediate downturn of the global economic crisis and the European debt crisis. Both prime ministers, uncharacteristically, won reelection in the middle of implementing some fairly hefty budget cuts (enough to lower Estonian public debt to just 5.7% of GDP as of 2012) — Ansip most recently in the March 2011 elections, when Reform actually gained two seats (for a total of 33) in the 101-member Riigikogu, the Estonian parliament.
Ansip ushered his country into the eurozone in 2011, the first of the Baltic states to do so, and Dombrovskis’s government followed, with Latvia acceding to the eurozone on January 1 of this year.
Just as Latvia’s governing center-right Vienotība (Unity) faces a difficult election in October later this year, Ansip’s own center-right Eesti Reformierakond (Estonian Reform Party) faces a similarly difficult challenge in elections expected to take place in March 2015. Continue reading Considering Andrus Ansip’s legacy in Estonia