Latvian government falls in budget vote

The government of Prime Minister Indulis Emsis has fallen, forced out after its proposed 2005 budget failed Oct. 28 to be adopted by the Saeima, the Latvian parliament. Jockeying now begins as political parties try to form a new coalition to lead the country.

Parliamentary rules say that if a budget fails in the first or second readings, it is the equivalent of a vote of no confidence in the government. The vote in the first reading was 53 against, 39 in favor and 5 abstentions, according to Latvian media reports.

The Emsis government—a minority coalition comprised of three parties—proposed a budget that would spend LVL 2.73 billion in the next year. However, according to media reports, the vote against the budget was more a vote against the Emsis government rather than an attack on the overall budget.

Ironically, media reports also said Oct. 27 that the Emsis-led coalition had secured enough votes to be able to pass the budget on its first reading. But, the news agency LETA said, on Oct. 28 members of parliament from Tautas partija (People’s Party) turned against the government and voted against the budget, even though their party is part of the minority coalition.

The Emsis government easily survived a vote of no confidence on Sept. 16. The vote had been sought by the leftist Tautas saskaņas partija (National Harmony Party). The conservative Jaunais laiks (New Era) party, led by former Prime Minister Einars Repše, also has sought to force out Emsis.

Emsis became prime minister on March 9 when parliament approved his government in a 56-33 vote. The coalition of minority parties included Emsis’ own Zaļo un zemnieku savienība (Union of Greens and Farmers), the conservative Latvijas Pirmā partija (First Party of Latvia) and the conservative Tautas partija.

President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga now has to invite a new candidate to become prime minister and form a new government, which will have to be approved by parliament. Emsis and his ministers are expected to continue serving until a new government is approved.

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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