President invites Dombrovskis to form new Latvian government

Latvian President Valdis Zatlers has formally invited current Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis to form the country’s next government.

The president’s invitation was announced the afternoon of Nov. 2, after Zatlers addressed the new parliament and told deputies that, as expected, he would ask Dombrovskis to continue to run the government. It is expected the new government will be confirmed in a special meeting of the Saeima on Nov. 3.

The announcement came after weeks of negotiations between Dombrovskis’ Vienotība (Unity) bloc and other political forces. Last week it became clear that the new government would be a coalition just two blocs, the centrist Vienotība and the conservative Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība (Union of Greens and Farmers, or ZZS).

Vienotība will control seven of the 13 ministerial portfolios in the new government, with ZZS getting the other six.

The seven candidates Vienotība has proposed include Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis as foreign minister, Artis Pabriks as defense minister, Sarmīte Ēlerte as culture minister, Aigars Štokenbergs as justice minister and Andris Vilks as finance minister. Current Economics Minister Artis Kampars and Interior Minister Linda Mūrniece would retain their portfolios.

ZZS, meanwhile, announced Nov. 1 that its candidates for the remaining posts include Juris Bārzdiņš as health minister, Uldis Augulis as transport minister, Rolands Broks as education minister and Ilona Jurševska as welfare minister. Jānis Duklavs would continue as agriculture minister, while Raimonds Vējonis would keep his job but with expanded responsibilities as head of the Ministry of the Environment.

Vienotība and ZZS have agreed to eliminate the current Ministry of Regional Development and Local Government Affairs, handing its responsibilities to the environment ministry.

Confirmation of the new government by the Saeima is fairly certain because Vienotība and ZZS together control 55 of the parliament’s 100 seats.

In his address to the Saeima, Zatlers said the new government faces hard work, including determining the 2011 budget and guaranteeing development of the country’s economy. Latvia has among the hardest hit economies in Europe and will have to plan for yet more budgetary cuts to keep its finances in line with demands by international creditors.

During the new Saeima’s first meeting on Nov. 2, lawmakers elected Vienotība member Solvita Āboltiņa as the parliament’s new speaker.

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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