Saiema approves seven new ministers

A day after six Jaunais laiks (New Era) ministers quit the government led by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis, Latvia’s parliament moved quickly to express its confidence in their replacements.

The 46-34 vote April 8 shored up Kalvītis’ minority coalition government.

In all, seven ministers were approved in the extraordinary meeting of the Saeima, including Krišjānis Peters, who is the new minister of communications. Peters, a member of the conservative Latvijas Pirmā partija (First Party of Latvia, or LPP), replaces Ainārs Šlesers.

Šlesers, a leader of LPP, became embroiled in controversy and a public dispute with Einars Repše, leader of the conservative Jaunais laiks, which accused Šlesers of trying to influence an election in the resort city of Jūrmala and of misuse of the country’s road fund. Šlesers resigned as communications minister on March 15.

Jaunais laiks, one of four parties that made up the conservative majority government, continued pressure on Kalvītis over the presence of LPP in the coalition. On April 6, Jaunais laiks announced it was quitting the coalition.

In addition to Peters, new faces in the government are Atis Slakteris, a member of Tautas partija (People’s Party), minister of defense; Aigars Štokenbergs, an adviser to Kalvītis, minister of economics; Guntars Grīnvalds, a member of LPP, minister of justice; Baiba Rivža, a member of Zaļo un zemnieku savienība (Union of Greens and Farmers), minister of education and science; Ina Gudele, special assignments minister for electronic government affairs, and Karina Pētersone, a member of Latvijas Ceļš (Latvia’s Way) and a former minister of culture, special assignments minister for society integration affairs.

Ninety of the Saeima’s 100 members voted, including 10 who abstained.

The new minority coalition controls 45 votes in the parliament.

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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