Parliament approves new Latvian government

A new government coalition, headed by new Prime Minister Einars Repše, has been approved by the Latvian parliament, according to local news media.

In a special session Nov. 7, the Saeima in a 55-43 vote approved a cabinet of ministers that draws from the ranks of four different and largely conservative political groups.

Among the appointments is Latvia’s first female foreign minister, Sandra Kalniete.

Leading the government will be Repše, the former Bank of Latvia governor whose conservative reform party, New Era (Jaunais laiks), won the most seats in the Oct. 5 parliamentary election. Also in the coalition is the conservative Christian party, Latvia’s First Party (Latvijas Pirmā partija); the nationalist For Fatherland and Freedom (Tēvzemei un brīvībai/LNNK), and the coalition between the Green Party and the Farmers’ Union (Zaļo un zemnieku savienība).

Left out of the coalition—as expected—are the other two major players in the new parliament: Andris Šķēle’s People’s Party (Tautas partija) and For Human Rights in a United Latvia (Par cilvēka tiesībam vienotā Latvijā, or PCTVL). The People’s Party is, like New Era, a conservative reform party. PCTVL, meanwhile, is a left-leaning party heavily favored by ethnic Russians.

The new government came together after several weeks of bickering over ministerial slots. Even with the approval, two cabinet posts remain empty, news reports said.

As part of the talks establishing the ruling coalition, each party was given charge of appointing some of the 17 ministers who are to run the government.

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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