Latvia’s parliament has approved a new five-party coalition government to be led by new Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, who has promised to set the country’s economy back on course and restore the public’s trust in state institutions.
The Saeima on March 12 voted 67-21 to approve the Dombrovskis government.
The 37-year-old Dombrovskis replaces Ivars Godmanis as prime minister. The four-party coalition government led by Godmanis collapsed last month and he resigned Feb. 20.
Dombrovskis, a member of New Era (Jaunais laiks, or JL), is a former finance minister. Before being tapped to form the nation’s new government, Dombrovskis was serving as a member of the European Parliament.
Besides New Era, the new center-right government will include ministers supported by the People’s Party (Tautas partija, or TP), the Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo un zemnieku savienība, or ZZS), the Civil Union (Pilsoniskā savienība, or PS) and For Fatherland and Freedom / LNNK (Tēvzemei un Brīvībai / LNNK, or TB/LNNK). Shut out from the government is the First Party of Latvia (Latvijas Pirmā partija), whose members include Godmanis and the controversial former minister of transport, Ainārs Šlesers. The socialdemocratic Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs), which may have had hopes of being part of a center-left coalition government, also remains in the opposition, as does the pro-Moscow party For Human Rights in United Latvia (Par cilvēka tiesībām vienotā Latvijā).
The new Cabinet of Ministers includes:
- Agriculture Minister Jānis Dūklavs (nonpartisan, delegated by ZZS), chairman of the board of the Piebalgas alus beer company.
- Culture Minister Ints Dālderis (nonpartisan, delegated by TP), who is director of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra.
- Defense Minister Imants Lieģis (nonpartisan, delegated by PS), the British-born son of World War II exiles who most recently has served as ambassador to Spain. He also has been Latvia’s ambassador to the European Union’s Political and Security Committee and before that was ambassador to the NATO defense alliance.
- Economics Minister Artis Kampars (JL), vice chairman of his party’s caucus in the Saeima.
- Education and Science Minister Tatjana Koķe (ZZS), who continues in the post she had in the Godmanis goverment. She is one of two women in the new government.
- Environment Minister Raimonds Vējonis (ZZS), who has held the job since 2002.
- Finance Minister Einars Repše (JL), a former prime minister and former president of the Bank of Latvia.
- Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš (TP), who continues in the post he had in the Godmanis government.
- Health Minister Ivars Eglītis (TP), who continues in the post he had in the Godmanis government.
- Interior Minister Linda Mūrniece (JL), a member of the Saeima and a former minister of defense. She is one of two women in the new government.
- Justice Minister Mareks Segliņš (TP), who was interior minister under Godmanis.
- Regional Development and Local Government Affairs Minister Edgars Zalāns (TP), who continues in the post he had in the Godmanis government. Zalāns was a leading candidate to replace Godmanis as prime minister, but instead Dombrovskis got the nod from President Valdis Zatlers.
- Transport Minister Kaspars Gerhards (TB/LNNK), who was the economics minister under Godmanis.
- Welfare Minister Uldis Augulis (ZZS), who most recently was the ministry’s parliamentary secretary.
The new government is smaller by two ministries. Gone are the Ministry of Children, Family and Integration Affairs as well as the Secretariat of the Special Assignments Minister for Electronic Government Affairs.
The Ministry of Children, Family and Integration Affairs, led by Ainars Baštiks (LPP), had just recently absorbed the Secretariat of the Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration Affairs, which was shut down at the end of 2008. The integration ministry, among other responsibilities, oversaw Latvia’s support for diaspora communities. The Dombrovskis government, according to its declaration, will promote the repatriation of ethnic Latvians and the return of Latvian residents living abroad.
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