Godmanis nominated for prime minister
RIGA - President Valdis Zatlers nominated outgoing Interior Minister Ivars Godmanis to the prime minister's post on Dec. 14, charging him with the formation of a new coalition that, in the president's words, should work to restore trust in the government.
Latvia has been without a head of government since the resignation of former Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis on Dec. 5. Godmanis, who was Latvia's first prime minister after independence, was widely rumored to be a shoo-in for the post, despite the fact that he was not officially nominated by any party.
"Godmanis was the one who got involved in the process with a large sense of responsibility from the very beginning," Zatlers told journalists after announcing his decision. He also expressed satisfaction with the nomination process, saying that decision-making "has become more transparent, more discussed in the public.
"We can start speaking about the beginning of good administration in Latvia," the president said.
After meeting with the leaders of the country's five center-right parties, however, Godmanis, a member of the Latvia's First Party/Latvia's Way union said that it may not be possible to put together a broad coalition in line with the president's wishes.
The four current ruling coalition parties 's the People's Party, For Fatherland and Freedom, Latvia's First Party/Latvia's Way and the Greens and Farmers Union 's all pledged their support to the newly appointed prime minister.
However, the opposition New Era party has put forward a number of conditions 's covering a wide range of topics 's if it is to cooperate in a newly formed government. One is the approval of a plea bargaining arrangement that would help prosecutors seal several high-profile corruption investigations.
Godmanis said on Dec. 18 that some of the conditions were unreasonable, and if the party does not back down he will be forced to set up another four-party coalition.
President Zatlers, when asked at a press conference what he would do if Godmanis failed to put a five-party coalition together, said he had faith in the new prime minister's abilities as a statesman.
"Let Ivars Godmanis work. Let's see what the result will be," the president said. "Politics is the art of compromise."
Debate over the new government's agenda rages on among prospective members of the new ruling coalition, as one of Godmanis' first acts in the post was to put forward a plan for his first 100 days in office.
The plan, which will be subject to approval by the ruling coalition members, envisages a number of "urgent" changes in spheres ranging from education, health care, energy and the national economy in general.
Another crucial element of Godmanis' 100-day action plan is the formation of a state security services council which would coordinate national security policy. The move would go hand in hand with a proposal to instate a series of controversial amendments on control of the country's state security services.
Godmanis has already suggested that he would reinstate fellow party member and outgoing Transport Minister Ainars Slesers and most probably newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Maris Riekstins. Municipal Affairs Minister Edgars Zalans would also keep his post.
When The Baltic Times went to press, no more specific names of people due to take part in the new government had been announced.
In a bid to regain the people's trust, Godmanis has also said that the new government would seek a mandate from Parliament through a vote of confidence on controversial issues.
"If we are in the government, we will work at the maximum of our capacities. And the limits of our work capacity will be decided by the parliament by either expressing confidence or non-confidence to our decisions," the prime minister candidate said.
Godmanis and his Cabinet will have to be confirmed by Parliament before assuming office. The candidate expressed hope that this could be accomplished before the end of the year.