October 25, 2011
Latvia’s new three-party coalition government, which will be headed by current Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, has been confirmed by the country’s parliament.
After about two hours of debate Oct. 25, the Latvian parliament confirmed the government on a 57-38 vote. While the new government seemed assured of at least 56 votes, it earned one more when Ingmārs Līdaka, a member of the Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība, or ZZS), appeared to break from his caucus to support Dombrovskis.
However, according to Latvian media reports, Līdaka apparently voted in favor by mistake. ZZS head Augusts Brigmanis told the LETA news agency that Līdaka tried to correct the error after the vote was already recorded.
Also backing the new government were all MPs from Dombrovskis’ centrist party Unity (Vienotība), the Zatlers Reform Party (Zatlera Reformu partija, or ZRP) and the right-wing National Alliance (Nacionālā apvienība “Visu Latvijai!” – “Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK”). The three parties makes up the new coalition government. An additional six votes came from former ZRP members who broke with the party to create an independent caucus.
The 38 votes against the new government came as expected from MPs representing the centre-left and Russian-oriented Harmony Centre (Saskaņas Centrs) and the conservative ZZS.
Three MPs—Viktors Jakovļevs of Harmony Centre as well as Ilona Jurševska and Kārlis Seržants of the Union of Greens and Farmers—did not vote.
The new government includes:
- Justice Minister Gaidis Bērziņš (National Alliance), 41, a practicing lawyer and a lecturer in law at the University of Latvia. Bērziņš was the minister of justice from 2006-2009.
- Health Minister Ingrīda Circene (Unity), 54, who previously served in the post during former Prime Minister Einars Repše’s government from 2002-2004.
- Culture Minister Žaneta Jaunzeme-Grende (National Alliance), 47, former chairperson of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
- Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis (ZRP), 42, who currently is an attorney for SIA BBF Consulting.
- Education Minister Robert Ķīlis (ZRP), 43, an associate professor of economics anthropology at the Stockholm School of Economics in Rīga.
- Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Unity), 45, who will continue in the position from the previous government.
- Economics Minister Daniels Pavļuts (ZRP), 35, who currently heads corporate relations for the Latvian branch of the Swedish-owned bank Swedbank.
- Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičš (ZRP), 38. He previously was chief-of-staff for former President Valdis Zatlers.
- Transportation Minister Aivis Ronis, 43, a former diplomat who has been deemed nonpartisan. Currently president of the Latvian Association of Private Banks, Ronis has served in various diplomatic posts and was foreign minister in 2010.
- Edmunds Sprūdžs (ZRP), 31, minister for environmental protection and regional development. Sprūdžs originally was ZRP’s candidate for prime minister.
- Agriculture Minister Laimdota Straujuma (Unity), 60, who currently is an assistant state secretary in the Ministry for Environmental Protection and Regional Development.
- Finance Minister Andris Vilks (Unity), 48, who will continue in the job from the previous government.
- Welfare Minister Ilze Vinķele (Unity), 39, who has served as the Ministry of Finance’s parliamentary secretary and currently is pursuing a doctorate in political science at the University of Latvia.
Confirmation of the new government followed the Sept. 17 special parliamentary election, which was called after Latvian voters overwhelmingly approved a July referendum to dissolve the 10th Saeima. The 11th Saiema began work 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.