President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga has asked Aigars Kalvītis, a member of parliament from the conservative Tautas partija (People’s Party), to become Latvia’s next prime minister and form a new coalition government. He would replace Prime Minister Indulis Emsis, whose minority coalition government fell Oct. 28 when the parliament failed to pass a proposed budget.
The president announced her choice in a Nov. 24 press conference.
Kalvītis, who has twice served in the cabinet of ministers, now will have to decide how to divide the various ministerial posts so that enough political parties are satisfied and will vote in parliament to confirm the new government. The parliament, or Saeima, has 100 seats, 20 of which are controlled by Tautas partija.
Kalvītis said that his party and the conservative Jaunais laiks (New Era) will share the same number of seats in the new government, according to the LETA news agency. Jaunais laiks had hoped its candidate, Krišjānis Kariņš, would be picked by the president as the next prime minister.
The 38-year-old Kalvītis has an educational background in agricultural economics and has studied in the United States and Ireland. He was elected to the 7th Saeima in 1998, but in 1999 was named by Prime Minister Andris Šķēle as the new agriculture minister. When Šķēle was replaced by Prime Minister Andris Bērziņš in 2000, Kalvītis became the minister of economics. In 2002, Kalvītis was elected to the 8th Saeima, where he now leads his party’s caucus.
The Emsis government collapsed when Tautas partija, which has been one of three parties in the minority coalition, turned on the prime minister and voted against his proposed budget on its first reading in the Saeima. Parliamentary rules stipulate that if a government-proposed budget is not passed in its first or second reading, the government is assumed to have lost the confidence of parliament.
The Emsis government will continue to operate until the new government is confirmed.
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