President names Dombrovskis next prime minister

Valdis Dombrovskis, who is a former finance minister and now serves as a member of the European Parliament, has been named to lead Latvia’s next government.

After meetings earlier this week with the various political parties represented in the Saeima, President Valdis Zatlers announced his choice in a Feb. 26 press conference.

Dombrovskis, a member of the conservative opposition party New Era (Jaunais laiks), would replace Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, whose coalition government collapsed Feb. 20.

Zatlers told reporters he chose Dombrovskis because the candidate had the most support among political parties and because of his qualifications in finance and economics, as well as his experience working with European institutions.

The 37-year-old Dombrovskis now has to cobble together a new Cabinet of Ministers and gain the Saeima’s approval.

Dombrovskis was one of four candidates for the post. His chief rival was People’s Party (Tautas partija) member Edgars Zalāns, the current minister for regional development and local government. It was Zalāns who had prepared an ill-fated reorganization plan focused on trimming the number of ministries in the Godmanis government.

In announcing his choice of Dombrovskis, Zatlers also praised Zalāns.

“The ideal variant is that both these people would work in one government and things in the country would head in the right direction,” Zatlers said, according to a transcript of the press conference.

Dombrovskis would take over the government at a time when Latvia’s economy is in a shambles and confidence in its political institutions is at a low point. Earlier this week, the ratings service Standard & Poor’s downgraded Latvia’s creditworthiness to “junk” status and other observers of the economy warned the country is in for a long struggle.

The other candidates to form the next government were Jānis Urbanovičs, a long-time member of the Saeima whose only support came from his Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs) party, and Godmanis, who had the support of his First Party of Latvia / Latvia’s Way (Latvijas Pirmā partija / Latvijās Ceļš).

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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