Welfare minister is latest to quit coalition government

Yet another Latvian cabinet member, this time Welfare Minister Dagnija Staķe, is quitting the coalition government led by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis.

During the Oct. 31 parliamentary caucus meeting of the Greens and Farmers Union (Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība), Staķe announced she is stepping down because she failed to get more money for pensioners in the proposed 2008 national budget, the Welfare Ministry said in a press release.

The promise of higher pension payments would mean reconsidering other welfare measures planned in the new budget, including support for the disabled, the unemployed and new parents.

“Given this situation, I do not see the possibility to continue working in the government,” Staķe said.

The Saeima is expected to vote on the final budget on Nov. 8.

Staķe has been the welfare minister for five years.

She becomes the fourth minister to leave the Kalvītis government in the past two months.

Jurijs Strods, the economics minister, quit in September to spend more time with his family. Artis Pabriks, the foreign minister, quit Oct. 19 in protest over the government’s sacking of the head of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau. Aigars Štokenbergs, the minister for regional development and local government, was asked by Kalvītis to step down after he was shut out Oct. 19 from the People’s Party (Tautas partija) in a dispute with party leader Andris Šķēle.

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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