September 30, 2011
The Zatlers’ Reform Party (Zatlera Reformu partija, or ZRP) wants current Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis to form Latvia’s next government, which would be a three-party coalition that would include the center-left and pro-Russian Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs).
In a statement released early Oct. 1 in Rīga, the centrist and reform-minded party headed by former President Valdis Zatlers said that its closest ideological partner is Unity (Vienotība), of which Dombrovskis is a member. At the same time, according to the statement, ZRP says that in order to enact the reforms it stands for it needs a broad majority in the Saeima.
“The Latvian state is as strong as Latvia’s people are unified,” according to the statement from the party’s board of directors.
In the Sept. 17 special parliamentary election, Harmony Centre won 31 of the Saeima’s seats. ZRP took 22 and Unity got 20, according to provisional results reported by the Central Election Commission. Together the three parties will control 73 seats in the 11th Saeima.
Whether the coalition will come together as suggested may depend on if Harmony Centre is willing to accept ZRP’s conditions. In discussions with Harmony Centre, according to the ZRP statement, party officials have maintained that one condition is that the fact of Latvia’s occupation by the Soviet Union must be acknowledged. In the past, Harmony Centre officials have been reluctant to do so.
“Harmony Centre must free itself from the spectres of the Interfront and the Communist Party,” according to the ZRP statement, “just as other parties must free themselves of searching for the enemies within.”
Disputes between ethnic Latvians and ethnic Russians served the oligarchs who have robbed Latvia, the statement continued.
“Right now we have a unique opportunity to tear down the wall of ethnic distrust, to create a unified people who are the power in an independent Latvian state,” according to the statement.
The right-wing National Alliance (Nacionālā apvienība “Visu Latvijai!”-“Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK”) won 14 seats and has been in discussion with ZRP and Unity about joining the coalition. However, leaders of the National Alliance also have said they would not serve in a government that included Harmony Centre.
If ZRP and Unity were to form a coalition with the National Alliance, then their majority in the Saeima would be narrower—just 56 seats.
The Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība) held on to 13 seats in the special election. Tied to oligarch and Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs, the party was among targets of ZRP. Zatlers has said his party would not serve in a coalition with the Greens and Farmers.
ZRP’s invitation to Dombrovskis to continue as the prime minister means the party has stepped back from its own prime ministerial candidate, Edmunds Sprūdžs. He likely would still get a ministerial post in the new government.
After meetings with represenatives of all parties in the new Saeima, President Andris Bērziņš on Sept. 29 told a press conference that if a coalition is not put together by the end of next week, he will take action. Under Latvia’s constitution, it is up to the president to invite a prime ministerial candidate to form a new government. Once the government is formed, the Saeima must confirm it.
The 11th Saeima, according to the constitution, must meet for the first time no later than a month after its election, in this case by Oct. 17.
Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000-2012 he was editor of the website.