Estonian Center Party Chairman Juri Ratas (C) addresses the parliament in Tallinn, capital of Estonia, Nov. 21, 2016. Estonian Center Party Chairman Juri Ratas was confirmed as new prime minister by the Parliament on Monday with 53 votes in favor. (Xinhua/Guo Chunju)
TALLINN, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Estonian Center Party Chairman Juri Ratas was confirmed as new prime minister by the Parliament on Monday with 53 votes in favor.
Of the 96 members of parliament at present out of the total 101 seats, 33 voted against the new government, with five absent, three no voting, and seven abstentions.
Addressing the parliament before the vote, Ratas mentioned Estonia's population crisis, its stagnating economy, growing inequality, and security situation as the country's four biggest challenges, which needs to be addressed.
He maintained that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its membership in the European Union were still Estonia's best safety guarantee, stressing that Estonia would continue on this path.
Ratas pledged that the new government would pay greater attention to Estonia's foreign service with additional funding allocated, adding that Estonia's presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2017 would be among the new government's priorities.
On national defense, He noted that Estonia would continue to spend at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on national defense, promising a supplementary financing plan.
Ratas also supported a strong allied presence in Estonia, noting that his government would make the necessary investments to accommodate allied troops.
Marianne Mikko, a parliament member of the Social Democratic Party, told Xinhua that Ratas' speech was great and the public's call for change after Reform Party's long time rule of 17 years was the reason behind the government replacement.
Meanwhile, a Center party member told Xinhua that there will be some differences between the new coalition government and previous prime minister Taavi Roivas' Reform Party coalition government, which lost a no confidence vote in Parliament on Nov. 9.
Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on Sunday appointed Ratas as candidate for prime minister and tasked him with forming a new government with Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, and the Social Democratic Party.