Coalition talks get off to bumpy start

  • 2004-11-25
  • By The Baltic Times
RIGA - Coalition talks led by PM-nominee Aigars Kalvitis have gotten off to a bumpy start as the two main right-wing forces failed to come to a common vision of how the next government would look.

On Thursday the People's Party, which Kalvitis represents, and New Era, the country's largest party, failed to reach an agreement on forming a new right-wing Cabinet that, in the president's words, would work until the next parliamentary election in October 2006.

Although the People's Party had offered New Era six ministerial portfolios and veto rights on all important decisions, the two sides were still unable to devise a general agreement.

Apparently the core disagreement revolves around New Era's insistence that For Fatherland and Freedom, a right-wing faction, join the coalition as well. Kalvitis said on Thursday that he was against the formation of "blocs" within the coalition.

"It is important for New Time that For Fatherland and Freedom join the government. We will be sticking together with For Fatherland and Freedom - either both in government, or opposition," said Krisjanis Karins, parliamentary faction leader of New Era.

Together New Era and For Fatherland and Freedom would have 31 seats in Parliament, while the People's Party, which was picked by President Vaira Vike-Freiberga on Wednesday to form the new government, would have only 20.

On Friday New Era and For Fatherland and Freedom released a statement reiterating the preparedness to join the next government, signaling that were offering Kalvitis an all our nothing deal.

What's more, the news agency Leta reported on Friday that the two parties said they would not join a coalition that would include Latvia's First Party and the Greens and Farmers Union - centrist parties that were part of the last two coalitions.

However, these two parties on Thursday told Kalvitis that they were willing to work in the new government on any conditions. What's more, on Friday they said that would only work together.

Together with the right wing parties, the People's Party would muster a coalition controlling 51 seats, a slim majority, while if Kalvitis opted for the centrist parties, he would have another minority coalition of 46 seats - and one with the same composition as the previous government.

Kalvitis said that he wants to see New Era in the government. He stated that the coalition agreement would include a clause whereby no decision can be made without the approval of New Era. "That's almost veto rights," he said.

Kalvitis has pledged to form the government fast and ensure that it is approved as soon as next week.