Estonia. At New Year, Estonia became the 17th country in the euro zone, when the old currency was exchanged at the exchange rate of 15.65 kroner against one euro.
In the opinion, only a quarter of Estonians were positive about the currency exchange in the midst of the growing euro crisis in Europe. For the government, however, it was a political success to have, in the wake of the global financial crisis, passed the conditions for the euro zone. Estonia’s economy had recovered in 2010 and at the beginning of 2011, Estonia had the EU’s lowest government debt and also a small surplus in the budget. However, unemployment was high, around 14%, after tangible budget cuts. In the first three quarters of 2011, Estonia had a GDP increase of around 7%, and at the end of the year unemployment fell.
With the economy recovering in the back, the coalition government won the parliamentary elections in March. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s own Liberal Reform Party received 28.6% of the vote and passed with two seats to 33. The right-wing Alliance IRL, which ruled together with Ansip’s party, increased even more and took 23 seats, an increase of four. The coalition thus gained a majority with 56 of Parliament’s 101 seats. IRL’s leader, former Prime Minister Mart Laar, had long stayed out of government but now became defense minister.
However, the biggest electoral success was the Social Democrats, whose new leader Sven Mikser pushed the party from just over 10% to over 17% and increased the number of seats from 10 to 19.
According to Countryaah official site, the Leftist Center Party returned some mandates to 26, after party leader Edgar Savisaar was accused of trying to get illegal funding from the Russian Federation to the party.
In August, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves was re-elected by Parliament for a second term of five years. Ilves got 73 votes against 25 for the challenger, European Parliamentarian Indrek Tarand. It was the first time in an Estonian presidential election that someone managed to get a two-thirds majority in the first round.
At the end of the summer, explosive charges in the Ministry of Defense in Tallinn were triggered by an armed left-wing extremist who entered the premises. When the police intervened, the bomber was killed in gunfire. No other person was harmed.
In February, ten children and young people died in a fire in an orphanage for people with disabilities in Haapsalu on the Baltic Sea coast. Most children in the home used a wheelchair. The business was mainly financed with donations from Sweden.