Latvia's ruling coalition agrees to form new government

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 28, 2014 4:16 PM

RIGA (Reuters) - The three political parties that make up Latvia's ruling center-right coalition agreed on Tuesday to form a new government after winning an election earlier this month.

The Unity, Union of Greens and Farmers and the National Alliance parties together won a clear majority in the Oct. 4 vote, taking 61 of the parliament's 100 seats.

The parties agreed to work together under current Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma but have had problems agreeing on areas of responsibility and ministerial positions.

"There will be a government, and we have also agreed on the composition of the government," Straujuma, the country's first female premier, told journalists on Tuesday night after another round of negotiations among the parties.

Unity will get six ministers, including the posts of prime minister, finance minister and foreign minister.

The Union of Farmers and Greens will get five ministerial posts while National Alliance will get three and the position of parliamentary speaker.

Many current ministers are expected to keep their positions but long-serving finance minister Andris Vilks, who lead the Baltic country into the euro zone, will step down. He is expected to be replaced by the current head of the parliament's Budget and Finance Committee, Janis Reirs.

The parties will meet the president and inform him of their proposal on Wednesday. They must also make a declaration outlining the new government's priorities.

The president could nominate the new prime minister on Nov. 4, when Latvia's new parliament will gather for its first sitting and the current government steps down, Solvita Aboltina, chairwoman of the Unity party, told journalists.

The parliament could then approve the new government in a vote of confidence the following day.

While the current coalition secured a majority of seats in parliament, pro-Russian Concord was the largest single party, winning 24 seats with support from the ex-Soviet state's large Russian-speaking minority.

It was locked out of negotiations to form a new government, however, as the current coalition has taken a hard line over Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Analysts expect the coalition to continue its pro-European and market-oriented course in the new government.

The coalition has been in power since January, when Straujuma became prime minister. Her predecessor Valdis Dombrovskis quit in November after a Riga supermarket collapsed, killing more than 50 people.

(Reporting by Aija Krutaine; Editing by Johan Ahlander and Catherine Evans)