Godmanis to face no-confidence vote

  • 2009-02-04
  • By Kate McIntosh
RIGA - The Latvian government is set to undergo a major shake-up, with embattled Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis facing a vote of no-confidence on Feb. 4.
As The Baltic Times went to press, the People's Party, a member of the ruling coalition, remained in negotiations to form a new Cabinet comprised of all major political parties.

Chairman of the People's Party parliamentary faction Maris Kucinskis told the Baltic News Service that the party had lost confidence in the present government's ability to function effectively.
The spokesman has vowed that economic policy would be a central priority for future governments.
Latvia's political intrigues have continued to intensify in the wake of mass riots in Riga and President Valdis Zatlers' subsequent threat to dissolve parliament if key political and economic reforms were not implemented by March 31.

However, negotiations on implementing the president's demands continue to be hamstrung by disagreements on crucial sticking points, including the formation of a new government.
On Jan. 29 conflicting draft constitutional amendments were submitted to Parliament by both Zatlers and the ruling coalition government.

In plans outlined to Latvia's parliamentary committee, the People's Party calls for the immediate dissolution of Parliament and snap elections.
In contrast, draft amendments submitted by the president would empower the electorate to directly initiate the dissolution of parliament by popular vote.
Meanwhile, opposition parties, who remain outspoken critics of the current government, signed a cooperation agreement geared towards stabilizing the economic situation and developing common legislation initiatives.
New Era, one of the country's leading opposition parties, earlier ruled out an invitation from Godmanis to join an expanded coalition, dismissing the gesture as "empty talk" that would bring little meaningful change to Latvia's troubled political landscape.

The latest developments came as Zatlers joined world leaders at Swiss ski resort Davos for talks on the implications of the global financial meltdown.
A spokeswoman for the president refused to comment on the coalition's rival draft bill, saying only that both proposals would be considered under normal democratic processes.
Asked if ongoing political maneuvering was muddying efforts to improve Latvia's economic situation, a spokeswoman said simply the media had a responsibility to report all developments fairly.

"The president agrees that different initiatives of constitutional change can be confusing and therefore it is important for the media to explain all positions accurately," the spokeswoman told TBT.
The president has previously said that early parliamentary elections were not on his agenda.
Public discontent with the current government boiled over in a violent outpouring in Riga's Old Town on Jan. 13 which saw mobs of youth storm Parliament and destroy property following a peaceful protest calling for the government to step down.

In a direct ultimatum delivered to Parliament on Jan. 21, Zatlers called for amendments to the current law on elections that would allow dissolution of parliament, a policy supporting economic recovery and the reorganization of the cabinet.
Godmanis has proposed a dramatic restructuring of the government, which would reduce the number of ministers from 16 to 10. The plan, which would see some ministries merged, is expected to save 27.9 million lats (39.7 million euros) in public administration costs.

The proposal is currently being reviewed by ruling coalition partners.