Emsis Cabinet survives no-confidence vote

  • 2004-09-22
  • By Aaron Eglitis
RIGA - Prime Minister Indulis Emsis' minority government easily survived a vote of no-confidence on Sept. 16 as a group of leftists failed to join in the show of discontent. The final vote was 32 for, 45 against and 12 abstaining. Parties in support were the right-wing New Era and the left-of-center National Harmony Party, which initiated the motion.

The right-wing For Fatherland and Freedom and left-wing For Human Rights in a United Latvia abstained.

New Era head Einars Repse was indignant not only with ally For Fatherland and Freedom for not participating but also with one of his own MPs, Inara Ostrovska, who called in sick. The former prime minister said he would ask for an explanation.

For Human Rights in a United Latvia chose not to support the vote despite anger at Alexander Kazakov's recent deportation by the Interior Minister. Party officials claimed the end result 's a new, right-wing coalition 's would result in a worse situation for the country's minorities.

"Once Emsis is gone, Repse will come to power. It will be a radical nationalist government, and we do not want to clear the way for it," Jakovs Pliners was quoted by the Baltic News Service as saying.

Right-wing ally For Fatherland and Freedom stated that they were categorically against aiding the left-wing in any way, even to bring down the government it opposes.

For his part, Emsis waved off the motion, saying that shadowy, secretive financial interests were to blame for the no-confidence vote.

"The situation looks good enough now. I don't have to worry because they did not get even one-third of the votes," he said.

But the fact that the vote, called for by a leftist party that had supported Emsis back in March, was even held underscored the fragility of the ruling coalition.

"It is clear that this minority government cannot last to the next election," Zanete Ozolina, head of the political science department at the University of Latvia, said. "We can expect another government, although it will depend on New Era whether they want to stay in the opposition or not."

Days before the vote, head of the People's Party faction Aigars Kalvitis promised a new government before the next elections. "The question is how long we will be able to hold out as a minority government 's and this could range from 10 days to several months," he said in the Neatkariga Rita Avize daily.

"The government will change again during the term of the current Parliament," he added.

Still, the often unpredictable climate of Latvian politics has left many observers who had foreseen an early fall for the minority coalition baffled by its resilience. The death knell for Emsis 's a coalition between New Era and the People's Party, currently part of the government 's has so far proved impossible to ring.

Talks have repeatedly fallen apart resulting in angry recriminations from both sides.

After failing to topple the government, New Era was less than upbeat about a possible new right wing government, but party members said they would continue to try.

With the upcoming budget debate in Parliament, rough times are expected to continue for the government. According to the constitution, a government must resign if it cannot get the budget passed in the 100-member legislature. Analysts say that, despite the robust economy and inflating government coffers, the Emsis Cabinet is likely to feel the pinch when it comes time to find enough MPs who will support the budget bill.