Saeima approves four-party coalition government

The Latvian parliament has narrowly approved a new four-party center-right coalition government headed by Ivars Godmanis, leaving the conservative New Era (Jaunais laiks) party still in the opposition.

Godmanis, 56, takes over from Aigars Kalvītis, who resigned Dec. 6 after several of his coalition’s actions this year heightened public displeasure with the government. Godmanis served as interior minister in the Kalvītis government.

The Godmanis coalition is composed of the same four parties that made up the Kalvītis government: the People’s Party (Tautas partija, or TP); the coalition of the First Party of Latvia and Latvia’s Way (Latvijas Pirmā partija and Latvijas ceļš, or LPP/LC); For Fatherland and Freedom (Tēvzemei un Brīvībai / LNNK, or TB/LNNK); and the Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība, or ZZS).

The new government was approved Dec. 20 on a 54-43 vote, with deputies from New Era, the left-leaning Harmony Centre (Saskaņas Centrs) and the heavily Russian party For Human Rights in United Latvia (Par cilvēka tiesībam vienotā Latvijā, or PCTVL) voting against Godmanis. One PCTVL deputy, according to Latvian media reports, voted for the new government.

Godmanis, a member LPP/LC, will lead a Cabinet of Ministers with mostly familiar faces, according to Latvian media reports.

The new finance minister is Atis Slakteris (TP). He was defense minister under Kalvītis. Slakteris replaces Oskars Spurdziņš (TP). Replacing Slakteris in the defense ministry is Vinets Veldre (TP), who was health minister under Kalvītis.

New to the cabinet are Interior Minister Mareks Segliņš (TP), who replaces Godmanis. Replacing Baiba Rivža as minister for education and science is Tatjana Koķe, who was the ministry’s parliamentary secretary under Rivža. The new economics minister is Kaspars Gerhards (TB/LNNK), replacing Jurijs Strods (TB/LNNK), who stepped down in September. The new health minister is Ivars Eglītis (TP), replacing Veldre.

Remaining in their places are:

  • Culture Minister Helēna Demakova (TP).
  • Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš (TP). Riekstiņš became foreign minister just weeks ago when Artis Pabriks, also of the People’s Party, quit in protest over a decision by Kalvītis to fire Aleksejs Loskutovs, head of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (Korupcijas novēršanas un apkarošanas birojs, or KNAB). Pabriks subsequently quit the party and now is an independent deputy in the Saeima.
  • Edgars Zalāns (TP), minister for regional development and local government affairs. Zalāns was the People’s Party candidate for prime minister. He replaced Aigars Štokenbergs, also of the People’s Party, after Štokenbergs fell out with Kalvītis and party leader Andris Šķēle, was ousted from the party and asked to resign his portfolio. Štokenbergs is now leading a new political movement and counts Pabriks among his allies.
  • Ainars Baštiks (LPP/LC), minister of children and family affairs.
  • Oskars Kastēns (LPP/LC), special assignments minister for social integration affairs.
  • Transport Minister Ainārs Šlesers (LPP/LC).
  • Agriculture Minister Mārtiņš Roze (ZZS).
  • Environment Minister Raimonds Vējonis (ZZS).
  • Ina Gudule (ZZS), special assignments minister for electronic government affairs.
  • Welfare Minister Iveta Purne (ZZS).
  • Justice Minister Gaidis Bērziņš (TB/LNNK).
  • Normunds Broks (TB/LNNK), minister for special assignments for administration of European Union funds. Broks remains despite a plan by Kalvītis to get rid of the EU funds office, because other government offices can take on the responsibility.

In a Dec. 19 press conference after meeting with Godmanis, New Era Chairman Krišjānis Kariņš told journalists his party was not satisfied with negotiations about the party’s possible role in a five-party coalition. The same day the party leadership sent an open letter to President Valdis Zatlers complaining that Godmanis was rushing to form the new government and was not following Zatlers’ recommendations.

Ivars Godmanis

Latvia’s parliament has approved the coalition government to be led by Ivars Godmanis.

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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