Sobota, 4 ocębrze 2003 o.

New government in Latvia

by Marek Pietrzyn

RIGA — Latvia's former junta leader Viktors Alksnis, winner of the parliamentary elections last August, has announced that the formation of a new government has come to a conclusion. Presumably queen Valentina will take the oath from the new ministers next Monday. The new government is a coalition of three parties: Alksnis' own People's Movement for the Kingdom (TKK), the conservative Agrarian Union (ZS), and the joint caucus of the Latvian National Party (LNP) and the Christian-Democratic Union (KDS).

Immediately after the elections, Alksnis had announced a quick formation that would not take more than a month, but finally he needed no less than fifty-one days. "This is not the first promise that Alksnis broke, and probably not the last one either", commented opposition leader Osvalds Talmanis. In the meantime, nobody knows exactly why it took Alksnis so long. Analysts offer different explanations: either the ZS made higher demands than Alksnis was prepared to meet, or the LNP-KDS simply used the fact, that DKK and ZS together had only 50 seats – not enough for a parliamentary majority – to make the negotiations harder than Alksnis had anticipated.

Nevertheless, Alksnis has all reasons to be satisfied: his own TKK will provide eight out of seventeen ministers, including Alksnis himself as prime minister and most of the so-called "power ministers" (interior, defense, justice, finance). The leaders of the other two coalition parties, Raivis Špons (ZS) and Austris Evers (LNP-KDS), become minister of foreign affairs and social affairs respectively. Particularly remarkable are the appointments of Peteris Petersons, former attorney-general during the years under snorist rule, as minister of justice, and of ex-junta member general Tarivaldis Rosenbergs as minister of defense.