Parliament approves new government

A new government led by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis has won resounding confirmation by the Saeima, Latvia’s parliament, according to media reports. Members of parliament on Dec. 2 voted 75-23 to support the new conservative government.

Four parties are represented in the new government: Tautas partija (People’s Party), Jaunais laiks (New Era), Latvijas Pirmā partija (First Party of Latvia, or LPP) and Zaļo un zemnieku savienība (Union of Greens and Farmers, or ZZS).

Kalvītis promised his government will resolve the crisis in healthcare, which has caused members of the medical profession to complain about wages. The new prime minister also said his government will balance the national budget, reduce inflation, make Latvia more competitive economically, ratify the new European constitution and complete privatization of state-owned properties.

Members of the new government include six ministers from Jaunais laiks, including party leader Einars Repše, the new defense minister; Solvita Āboltiņa, justice minister; Krišjānis Kariņš, economics minister; Ina Druviete, education and science minister;  Jānis Reirs, information minister, and Ainars Latkovskis, minister for special assignments for social integration affairs.

In addition to Kalvītis, Tautas partija members in the new government include Oskars Spurdziņš, finance minister; Gundars Bērziņš, health minister; Helēna Demakova, culture minister; Artis Pabriks, foreign minister, and Māris Kučinskis, regional development and municipal affairs minister.

The Union of Greens and Farmers got three portfolios: Mārtiņš Roze, agriculture minister; Raimonds Vējonis, environment minister, and Dagnija Staķe, welfare minister.

The First Party also got three: Ainārs Šlesers, communications minister; Ainārs Baštiks, children and family affairs minister, and Ēriks Jēkabsons, interior minister.

The new government replaces the minority government headed by Prime Minister Indulis Emsis, forced out Oct. 28 when the parliament rejected his proposed 2005 budget.

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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