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Latvia’s new ruling coalition takes shape

By Howard Jarvis. 11.10.2011

Āboltiņa & president
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New ruling coalition excludes pro-Russia party Harmony Center

The centrist Zatlers Reform Party, the center-right Unity bloc and the right-wing National Alliance will form Latvia’s next governing coalition, it was agreed last night, October 10. The two broadly centrist parties decided that bringing into government for the first time the pro-Russia party Harmony Center, which won the most seats in September’s snap parliamentary elections, would have been unacceptable for ideological reasons.
So Harmony Center will remain in opposition. It will be joined by the Greens and Farmers Union, which is widely believed to be controlled by Latvia’s increasingly isolated oligarch Aivars Lembergs.
The new ruling coalition will have 56 votes in the 100-seat parliament. Incumbent Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis is the leading candidate for the future government’s prime minister.
Latvian President Andris Bērziņš has already said that he recognizes the advantages of having Dombrovskis back in the hot-seat, but he has named several preconditions. Essentially, these are that the new coalition must follow all international agreements binding to Latvia, continue its reform and fiscal policies, and ensure growth and stability. Bērziņš will nominate a prime minister once the new parliament convenes its first session, planned for October 17.
“We have not discussed the distribution of positions yet – either ministerial posts or positions in the parliament,” Dombrovskis said.
The economic policies of the three partners broadly coincide, with the aim of adopting the euro in 2014. But according to the National Alliance’s co-chairman Raivis Dzintars, one key difference of opinion lies in the easing of citizenship procedures for the children of non-citizens born in Latvia.
However, the three parties have produced a joint document that includes a section on the “strengthening of the Latvian language in all aspects.”
Harmony Center representative Andrejs Klementjevs commented that he did not feel offended about being excluded from a ruling coalition once again, “but we still believe it would have been best to form a coalition of the ZRP, Unity, and Harmony Center.”
Unity leader Solvita Āboltiņa explained in an interview to the daily Neatkarīga Rita Avize that “our party has ethnic Russian board members [Andrejs] Judins and [Aleksejs] Loskutovs, and it is they who find a coalition with the Harmony Center unacceptable – not for ethnic but for ideological reasons.”
She added: “If there is no certainty that we can protect our national values, we must not invite Harmony Center to the coalition. I am not saying that somebody from Harmony Center is responsible for the events [of the Soviet occupation], but they represent this ideology. And this is dangerous.”
She also said that not all members of the centrist ZRP, which had earlier invited Harmony Center to the coalition, supported a partnership with the leftists.


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