In a quick turnaround, Latvian lawmakers met in the morning of Nov. 7, organized the new Saeima and, gathering again in the early evening, voiced their approval for a continuation of a government coalition led by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis.
The four-party conservative coalition received 58 votes in favor and 41 against, according to the parliament’s official Web site.
Of the four parties in the coalition, Tautas partija (People’s Party) got seven portfolios, including the job of prime minister. Zaļo un zemnieku savienība (Unions of Greens and Farmers) got five portfolios. Four went to Latvijas Pirmā Parija (First Party of Latvia) and Latvijas Ceļš (Latvia’s Way), which joined forces for the Oct. 7 parliamentary election. The newest coalition member, Tēvzemei un Brīvibai/LNNK (For Fatherland and Freedeom/LNNK) got three porfolios.
Tēvzemei un Brīvibai/LNNK joined the coalition in just the past few days, disappointing Jaunais laiks (New Era), which had been trying to mend fences with other conservative parties and rejoin the coalition. Jaunais laiks had been part of the last Kalvītis government, but pulled its six ministers in April in a public dispute with Latvijas Pirmā Partija.
The new Cabinet of Ministers includes:
- Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis, Tautas partija, who continues in his position.
- Defense Minister Atis Slakteris, Tautas partija, who had joined the cabinet in April.
- Finance Minister Oskars Spurdziņš, Tautas partija, who first got the job in March 2004.
- Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks, Tautas partija, who first got the job in July 2004.
- Culture Minister Helēna Demakova, Tautas partija, who has held the post since March 2004.
- Health Minister Gundars Bērziņš, Tautas partija, who first got the job in December 2004.
- Aigars Štokenbergs, Tautas partija, minister for regional development and local government. He previously was the economics minister.
- Education and Science Minister Baiba Rivža, Zaļo un zemnieku savienība, who has held the position since April.
- Welfare Minister Dagnija Staķe, Zaļo un zemnieku savienība, who first got the job in November 2002.
- Environment Minister Raimonds Vējonis, Zaļo un zemnieku savienība, who has held the position since January 2003.
- Agriculture Minister Mārtiņš Roze, Zaļo un zemnieku savienība, who first got the job in November 2002.
- Ina Gudele, Zaļo un zemnieku savienība, minister for special assignments for electronic government affairs. She has held the position since April.
- Minister for Children and Family Affairs Ainārs Baštiks, Latvijas Pirmā Partija and Latvijas Ceļš, who first got the job in May 2004.
- Interior Minister Ivars Godmanis, Latvijas Pirmā Partija and Latvijas Ceļš, who replaces the controversial Dzintars Jaundžeikars. Godmanis was chair of the Council of Ministers from 1990-1993 and served as finance minister from 1998-1999.
- Minister of Transportation Ainārs Šlesers, Latvijas Pirmā Partija and Latvijas Ceļš, who replaces Krišjānis Peters. Šlesers, who has been at loggerheads with Jaunais laiks founder Einars Repše, is head of Latvijas Pirmā Partija. He returns to the communications ministry, having held the minister’s job before Peters.
- Oskars Kastēns, Latvijas Pirmā Partija and Latvijas Ceļš, minister for special assignments for society integration affairs, who replaces Karina Pētersone. Pētersone, elected to the new Saeima, now is an advisor to the speaker of the parliament.
- Economics Minister Jurijs Strods, Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK, who replaces Štokenbergs.
- Justice Minister Gaidis Bērziņš, Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK, who replaces Guntars Grīnvalds.
- Normunds Broks, Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK, minister for special assignments for administration of European Union funds.
The Cabinet of Ministers is scheduled to meet for the first time Nov. 8.
The new speaker of the Saeima is Indulis Emsis, who served as prime minister for seven months in 2004. He is a member of Zaļo un zemnieku savienība.
The Saeima consists of 100 members, but the election of one deputy, Juris Boldāns, was not sanctioned by the parliament’s ethics commission. Boldāns, elected on the Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK ticket, is under investigation for forgery related to the recent election.
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