Culture minister to stay on, while government considers its options

The Latvian government may only need to fill three ministerial seats, not five, because one minister has decided to stay on and the ruling coalition is considering breaking up another minister’s duties.

Culture Minister Ints Dālderis said March 19 that he will not join other People’s Party (Tautas partija) members who are quitting. The People’s Party announced March 17 that it is withdrawing from the coalition government led by Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis.

“It would not be right to leave the post right now,” Dālderis said in a prepared statement released March 19. “I must continue to work.” The announcement came after Dālderis consulted with Dombrovskis and with representatives of the country’s cultural sector.

Dālderis, previously director of the Latvian National Symphony, became the culture minister when the Dombrovkis government came to power a year ago. He joined the People’s Party only after becoming the minister. Despite his decision to stay in the government, the People’s Party is not planning to expel Dālderis, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, the four remaining parties in the coalition have invited the conservative First Party of Latvia (Latvijas Pirmā partija) to join the government, according to the LETA news service. Without the First Party, the four-party coalition would control just 47 of the 100 seats in the Saeima, making it a minority government.

In addition, the government plans to dissolve the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Government Affairs, dividing its functions among several other ministries, LETA reported. The ministry has been headed by Edgars Zalāns, one of the People’s Party ministers who is leaving the government.

The remaining People’s Party ministers who are expected to leave the government are Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš, Justice Minister Mareks Segliņš and Health Minister Baiba Rozentāle.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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