RIGA - The Saeima on June 10 rejected a motion submitted by three opposition parties - the People’s Party (TP), Harmony Center (SC), and Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way (LPP/LC) - for a vote of no confidence against Economy Minister Artis Kampars (New Era), reports news agency LETA. The motion was supported by 48 deputies, while 49 were against; one deputy abstained.
The vote to keep Kampars in office was saved by two opposition deputies, as Vitalis Orlovs (SC) did not attend the sitting due to health problems, and Janis Klauzs (TP) abstained. Klauzs before the vote had said that he was not prepared to support the no confidence proposal, and had already for some time not participated in the work of the People’s Party.
Some good old-fashioned horse-trading may also have been one reason for Kampar’s success, as unofficial sources indicated that if Klauzs supported Kampars, it had been promised that the Livani hospital would be maintained. The deputy is from Livani, and one of the reasons why he had not re-registered with the People’s Party was due to his objections over the planned closure of the hospital.
The minister noted that the opposition’s motion may have been connected with the fact that the minister had opposed the privatization of the heating company Rigas siltums, as pushed for by Ainars Slesers (LPP/LC) and Harmony Center.
The many proposals for the Law on Credit Institutions indicated that there are still people who wish to retain privileges for former Parex bank shareholders, he added.
Kampars also predicted that there would be still further attempts to disrupt the efforts of Valdis Dombrovskis’ (New Era) government.
The opposition was calling for the minister’s resignation in connection with the contraction of the Latvian economy, the high unemployment rate, and the conditions for the recent sale of Parex Leasing in Belarus.
Dzintars Zakis, leader of New Era’s Saeima faction, expressed his opinion that this kind of initiative from the opposition is simply an attempt to attract attention to themselves in the pre-election period at the expense of a minister who has performed well in office.
Several Latvian businesspeople had previously expressed their concerns that the attempt to remove the minister from office was simply a pre-election maneuver at the public’s expense.
After surviving the vote, Kampars said that, during the previous few days, he had received much support from the public and from businesspeople, and he was grateful for this support, related his press secretary, Sandris Sabajevs. “I would like to thank the public and business representatives for the huge support I have received the past several days. It is clear not only to me, but to the public as well, that there was only one reason why the opposition called for my resignation - political destruction and polishing their images before the Saeima elections. I am truly happy that the public understood the real reasons a vote of no confidence was called against me, and support the policies that are being carried out by the Valdis Dombrovskis government,” Kampars emphasized.
Kampars is already the second minister in the minority government to survive resignation demands in the Saeima, following the parliament’s rejection on May 20 of a similar motion against Interior Minister Linda Murniece (New Era).