New government approved in 56-33 vote

A new government led by Prime Minister Indulis Emsis has been approved by the Saeima, Latvia’s parliament, in a 56-33 vote, according to the parliament’s press office in Rīga.

The new government draws its ministers from three conservative parties, but also includes one member of Jaunais laiks (New Era, or JL), which had pressed parliament to reject the Emsis-led coalition.

Nine votes for the new coalition government came from the leftist Tautas saskaņas partija (People’s Harmony Party), leading some observers to forecast that the left will play an important role in government politics.

Because he has agreed to serve as a minister in the new government, Andrejs Radzēvičs is likely to withdraw from or be kicked out of Jaunais laiks, according to media reports. Jaunais laiks, led by previous Prime Minister Einars Repše, had over the weekend pushed for a government that would be led by party member Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš.

Repše and his government resigned Feb. 5 after a falling out with coalition partner Latvijas Pirmā partija (First Party of Latvia, or LPP).

Emsis, a member of the Zaļo un zemnieku savienība (Union of Greens and Farmers, or ZZS), also will serve as minister of health. Foreign news reports have noted that he is the first Green prime minister in Eastern Europe.

Others in the new government include Ainārs Šlesers, (LPP), who will be minister of communications and deputy prime minister; Atis Slakteris, a member of Tautas partija (People’s Party, or TP), who will be defense minister; Rihards Pīks (TP), foreign minister; Juris Lujāns (LPP), economics minister; Oskars Spurdziņš (TP), finance minister; Ēriks Jēkabsons (LPP), interior minister; Juris Radzēvičs (LPP), education and science minister; Mārtiņš Roze (ZZS), agriculture minister; Dagnija Staķe (ZZS), welfare minister; Vineta Muižniece (TP), justice minister; Raimonds Vējonis (ZZS), environment minister; Helēna Demakova (TP), culture minister; Andrejs Radzēvičs (JL), regional development and local government affairs minister; Ainars Baštiks (LPP), special minister for children and family affairs, and Nils Muižnieks (LPP), special minister for social integration.

The Emsis government is considered a minority government, because the three parties in the coalition control only 46 seats in parliament. That means that to earn a majority in the 100-seat Saeima the coalition government may have to reach across the aisle to gain support for its policies from opposition deputies.

(Corrected 09 MAR 2004)

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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