Latvian coalition parties meet for crunch talks

After months of on-off negotiations between the three parties in Latvia's current ruling coalition – New Unity, the National Alliance and the United List – Friday sees all three gathering around a table for what could be a decisive meeting.

As previously reported by LSM, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) says he wants the current coalition either to significantly up its game and make several ministerial changes, or he might dissolve it and instead team up with two opposition parties, the Greens and Farmers' Union (ZZS) and the Progressives. Those opposition parties in turn feel they are owed a place in government for helping New Unity get Edgars Rinkēvičs elected President.

Speaking before the crunch meeting, representatives of the National Alliance and the United List said they are keen to carry on in their current composition, Latvian Television reported.

United List representative and parliamentary speaker Edvards Smiltēns, told the media that for 73 days, since Kariņš started negotiations on possible changes in the government, civil servants and the public alike have been caught up in uncertainty,

"We have come to put an end to the uncertainty," he said. "We are ready to work and agree that this three-party coalition is the most optimal model" he said, adding that it was time to end "political games".

Similarly the representative of the National Alliance, Jānis Dombrava characterized the process to this point as political games conducted by New Unity. The games should cease and work should continue, he suggested.

The coalition partners, however, did not answer whether they agree with the ministerial reshuffle proposed by Kariņš, saying that they would give their comments only after meeting with the prime minister.

The Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Māris Sprindžuks (United List), in an interview with LTV on Friday morning, stated that "changing horses during the budget" would mean losing another six months to a year. 

Several National Alliance and United List politicians said on Thursday that they see no justification for a ministerial shuffle and do not believe that it will improve the government's work. Meanwhile ZZS and Progressives politicians expressed their readiness to join the government.

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