Just when it seemed Latvia’s political world had reached some sort of equilibrium with news that agreement has been reached on a new coalition government, six newly elected MPs from the Zatlers Reform Party (ZRP) announced Oct. 16 that they turning independent.
The six—Klāvs Olšteins, Elīna Siliņa, Gunārs Rusiņš, Jānis Upenieks, Viktors Valainis and Jānis Junkurs—told Latvian media they are unhappy with what they see as “undemocratic” maneuvering within ZRP, the party headed by ex-President Valdis Zatlers.
Olšteins is the apparent leader of the breakaway group and for some there had been talk in ZRP of kicking him out for his “destructive work” in the party, ZRP spokeswoman Daiga Holma said in a statement.
While politicians were scrambling to salvage the proposed coalition, the breakway MPs demanded that they get to name two of the ministers in the new government, according to media reports. Specifically, they want to pick the ministers of interior and of transportation.
ZRP announced Oct. 14 that it had reached agreement with Unity (Vienotība) and the National Alliance (Nacionālā apvienība “Visu Latvijai!” – “Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK”) to create a new government to be headed by current Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis.
Under the coalition agreement, the minister of the interior would be named by ZRP while the transportation minister would have been non-partisan. According to Holma, Olšteins has declared that he wants to be the interior minister.
The three parties in the coalition would have controlled 56 out of the 100 seats in the Saeima, but with the six deputies announcing that they are leaving it could mean that the coalition could count on only half of MPs to side with it.
The new parliament, elected Sept. 17, is set to meet for the first time on Oct. 17. Under the Latvian constitution, Latvia’s president invites a prime ministerial candidate to form the new government, which must then be confirmed by the Saeima.
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