Race is on to be new PM

  • 2007-11-15
  • By Mike Collier in association with BNS

STAYING PUT: Riekstins says he would not choose himself for the PM position (Photo: Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

RIGA -- WITH incumbent Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis's self-declared Dec. 5 resignationdeadline fast approaching, the race to replace him is starting to hot up in Latvia.

Kalvitis' own People's Party is consideringup to six replacements, Kalvitis revealed after a Nov. 14 meeting with PresidentValdis Zatlers.

He emphasized that the process of forming ofa new government has just begun. Only after the next government's goals aredefined would candidates be selected, he said.

Kalvitis acknowledged that the leading candidates included the same names thatthe press has been speculating about over the past week, including Culture MinisterHelena Demakova, Regional Development and Local Governments Minister EdgarsZalans and Riga City Council member Edmunds Krastins.

Finance Minister Oskars Spurdzins and former ministerGundars Berzins could also be nominated for the premiership, Kalvitis said.

The People's Party remains the largest political party represented in Saeima, andtherefore it will play an important role in the new government, Kalvitis said.

Zatlers did not meet with reporters after the meeting with Kalvitis, but hispress secretary Inta Lase stressed that the president was monitoring thesituation closely.

Lase told the press that Zatlers will meet with all parties represented inparliament, plus parliamentary speaker Gundars Daudze.

Lase also revealed that Zatlers still holds to his opinionthat there should be a public debate about candidates for the prime minister'spost.

Kalvitis announced on Nov. 7 that his coalition governmentwould resign on Dec. 5 in order to form a new coalition government.

The opposition New Era party has already named its candidate, European Parliament lawmaker ValdisDombrovskis.

New Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins had also been linkedwith the top job in government, but appeared to count himself out of contentionduring an interview with the Dienas Bizness newspaper.

"If I would be offered to become a prime ministertoday, I would say that this is not a good choice," he said, adding thateverything is possible in politics, but economic decisions are not among theones he has been in touch in his previous career.

"Latvianeeds an economist type of prime minister at present," Riekstins said,adding that he expects to continue in his current post after the formation of anew government.

"I assume that if the People's Party is responsiblefor this area, the party will not choose another candidate," the ministersaid.