New government approved

  • 2009-03-18
  • By Kate McIntosh
RIGA - The Latvian parliament has approved a new center-right government, to be headed by former Finance Minister Valdis Dombrovskis.
New Era's five-party coalition holds a 64 seat majority from a possible 100 following a parliamentary vote on March 12.

At just 37, Dombrovskis is Europe's youngest head of government.
Dombrovskis takes over from former Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, who survived an earlier no-confidence vote, only to stand down after members of his coalition withdrew their support.
The latest coalition is Latvia's third government in 15 months.
The new government's appointment comes at a time of economic and political turmoil.

Latvia is facing bankruptcy if it fails to renegotiate the terms of a massive 7.5 billion euro loan from the International Monetary Fund and other international lenders.
Public confidence in government is also at a low.
Ongoing public frustration over the previous government's handling of the worsening financial crisis erupted in mass riots in Riga in January.

Under the IMF-led economic bailout package Latvia agreed to maintain a budget deficit of 4.7 percent of gross domestic product or risk losing future loan payments.
However, Dombrovskis is hoping to persuade the IMF and European Union to permit a deficit of 7 percent of GDP to help Latvia ride out the deep recession.
With the economy continuing to contract, Latvia would need to shave some 700 million lats (996 million euro) from its budgets to meet its current obligations.
There are fears that the drastic cuts needed to stay within these margins could tip the struggling Baltic economy over the edge.

Speaking to The Baltic Times ahead of the March 12 vote Dombrovskis said negotiations with the IMF and EU would be the incoming government's most pressing task.
"The threat of bankruptcy is real and very immediate," Dombrovskis told TBT.
Latvia's economy shrank 4.6 percent in 2008 after a more than 10 percent slump in the last quarter of 2008. Latest estimates from the Ministry of Finance predict a decline of up to 12 percent in GDP this year, with warnings the recession could run deeper.

Dombrovskis, who has been an outspoken critic of the previous government's fiscal policy, served as finance minister in a New Era government between 2002 and 2004. An earlier bid for the premiership, following the collapse of then Prime Minister  Aigars Kalvitis' government in 2007, was unsuccessful.
Most recently he served as a member of the European Parliament.
The new Cabinet comprises members of the People's Party, the Greens and Farmers Union, the Civic Union and the nationalist For Fatherland and Freedom.

Finance Ministry: Einars Repse, New Era. Founder of New Era, Repse became Prime Minister in 2002. He later served as a defense minister, but was forced to resign from his post after an investigation into alleged corruption practices.
Economy Ministry: Artis Kampars, New Era. Former Saeima deputy and New Era's regional council leader. He was also responsible for running the Budget and Finance (Tax) and the European Affairs Committee.
Transport Ministry: Kaspars Gerhards, For Fatherland and Freedom. Gerhards studied economics at the University of Latvia. He has held various economics related posts before being appointed Economy Minister in Ivars Godmanis' then ruling coalition.
Foreign Ministry: Maris Riekstins, People's Party. Riekstins studied law at the University of Latvia before serving as Latvia's ambassador in the U.S. and Mexico. He was appointed chief-of-staff under the Aigars Kalvitis-led government and later as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2007.
Interior Ministry: Linda Murniece, New Era. Former defense minister and most recently Saeima deputy. She was also chairperson of Committee on Supervising the Prevention and Combating of Corruption, Contraband and Organized Crime.
Justice Ministry:  Mareks Seglins, People's Party. In 2007 he became interior minister in Ivars Godmanis' Cabinet. The following year he earnt notoriety after describing Britain as a "piggy nation" after an English tourist was arrested for urinating on Riga's Freedom Monument.
Agriculture Ministry: Janis Duklavs, non-partisan. Piebalgas alus brewery's board chairman succeeds Martins Roze, who resigned from the was ministry amid mass protests from farmers calling for his sacking.
Welfare Ministry: Uldis Augulis. Augulis LM served as the parliamentary secretary in the Agriculture Ministry since January, 2008.
Regional Affairs: Edgars Zalans, People's Party. Zalans, a former architect, retains his post in the Regional Affairs Ministry. Zalans has twice stood as a candidate for prime minister.
Health Ministry: Ivars Eglitis, People's Party. Eglitis, a qualified physiotherapist, worked in Kuldiga's central district hospital and was appointed Health Minister in Godmanis's Cabinet in 2007.
Environment Ministry: Raimonds Vejonis, Greens and Farmers Union. Vejonis holds a Masters degree in biology and has been Minister of the Environment since 2002.
Education Ministry: Tatjana Koke, Greens and Farmers Union. Koke has been a professor at Latvia's Institute of Education and Psychology. She has been education minister since late-2007.
Defense Ministry: Imants Liegis, Civic Union. Born in exile to a Latvian family, Liegis later obtained a degree in Justice in the U.K. He returned to Latvia in 1992 and was the previous ambassador to NATO and current Latvian ambassador to Spain
Culture Ministry: Ints Dalderis, People's Party. A celebrated clarinet soloist, Dalderis was a former director of the National Symphony Orchestra. He has been heavily involved in the development and promotion of cultural pursuits in Latvia.