Saturday 11/28/20
RIGHT-WING POPULIST

Estonia replaces minister who questioned Biden and mocked Sanna Marin

Mart Helme resigned from office at beginning of last week after questioning the legality of the outcome of the US presidential election.
File photo of former Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme, during an election television debate. Photo: Raul Mee/dpa.
File photo of former Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme, during an election television debate. Photo: Raul Mee/dpa.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid has appointed a new interior minister to replace the previous incumbent who resigned after questioning the legality of the outcome of the US presidential election.

Alar Laneman of the right-leaning populist Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) took the oath of office on Wednesday.

The 58-year-old politician succeeds his party colleague Mart Helme, who resigned from office at the beginning of last week.

Helme and his son Martin, who is the country's finance minister, had drawn heat for comments on a radio show, in which they questioned the legitimacy of the US election, won by Joe Biden.

Helme also called Biden a "corrupt character" in the broadcast. 

Remarks about Sanna Marin

In the past, Helme also embarrassed his country by making remarks about Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin. During a radio interview, he questioned Marin's ability for the post of head of government, with disparaging comments based on her professional background.

Finland and Estonia had shared for years a good relationship and Helme's statements forced Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid to call her Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö to formally apologize.

Mart Helme and his son Martin belong to the right-wing populist party EKRE, which became a part of the governing coalition in 2019 after a rightward shift in voting. However, it has been a source of frequent scandal since. The elder Helme is the founder and long-time leader of the party.

Kaljulaid called the comments by the Helmes on Joe Biden "an attack against Estonian democracy and security."

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