On paper, she looks poised to become Estonia’s first female head of state. Ene Ergma is the sole candidate and has strong backing from deputies ahead of today’s crucial parliamentary vote. But the presidential hopeful needs a two-thirds majority and could fall short. Should that happen, the man who currently holds the job, Arnold Ruutel, 78, is expected to throw his hat into the ring in a bid to stay on.
Since independence, the most northerly of the former Soviet Baltic republics has only had two presidents. It is a largely ceremonial role in Estonia, which joined the European Union in 2004. If today’s vote fails, a second round is planned tomorrow. But if parliament is unable to pick a president, the matter will be handed to an electoral assembly in which deputies will be joined by local government representatives.