Speaking after a meeting with his existing coalition partners, the National Alliance and the United List, Kariņš said they had rejected his proposals for a ministerial reshuffle and revised priorities. However, despite effectively deciding to collapse the coalition, he is not resigning because he wants the transition to the next government to happen quickly, he said.
Kariņš told the media he had just two choices – reinvigorating the existing coalition along his preferred model or forming another government – and that while he had not heard any objections to his new list of priorities, the existing partners were unwilling to see an extensive shuffling of ministerial portfolios take place.
"Consequently, I have no choice but to establish that, in order for us to regain dynamism in the work of the government and achieve the goals that are so necessary for society, I will start forming a [new] government coalition," Kariņš declared.
He said he will continue the already-started negotiations with the opposition Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) and Progressives, but his goal is the widest possible coalition, and he will also talk with previous coalition partners to see if they might stay on board.
"I'm not going to resign right now, I'm not going to throw in the towel, as maybe some people expect. I will work to form the next government, and when the model of the next government is clear, will work so that the change is quick and seamless," said Kariņš.
Kariņš also concluded that fallings-out in government are not unusual, and happen in many democracies. The Prime Minister also thanked his coalition partners and said that he would refrain from criticism, focusing instead on forming the next government.
He said he would work on the assumption that he could be the next Prime Minister and take on the task of building the next coalition.
Formally, this will require the assent of President Rinkēvičs, and many eyes will be on the new President to see if he is critical of the actions of his former party colleague. Indeed, Rinkēvičs himself provided a reminder of the fact, saying he expected to hear a plan of action from Kariņš on August 17 and that consequently "any actions currently undertaken should be considered political consultations, not government formation".
Atbilstoši Satversmes 56.pantam Ministru kabinetu sastāda persona, kuru uz to aicina Valsts Prezidents, līdz ar to jebkādas darbības pašlaik uzskatāmas par politiskajām konsultācijām, nevis valdības veidošanu. Gaidu Ministru prezidentu ar rīcības plānu 17.augustā— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) August 11, 2023
The meeting of the United List and the National Alliance with the Prime Minister on Friday lasted for more than two hours. After the conversation, the representatives of both political forces told the media that they assured the prime minister of their readiness to work and fulfill the promises contained in the government's declaration, drafted less than a year ago. However, the coalition partners did not accept the Prime Minister's plan for a ministerial shuffle.
They allegedly explained all this to Kariņš, who then said "Thank you", got up and left the room.
If Kariņš does wind up forming a new administration with just ZZS and the Progressives alongside his New Unity party, it will control 52 seats in the 100-seat Saeima, compared with the 54 seats held by the current coalition.
By lunchtime, Kariņš was already announcing talks with ZZS and the Progressives to take place this afternoon, adding that the National Alliance and United List would also be invited later in the afternoon.
Latvijas cilvēkiem būtisko jautājumu risināšanā nav pieļaujama pauze, tādēļ jau šodien par jaunās valdības modeli sarunās plkst. 13:00 tikšos ar @Progresivie , 14:00 – @ZZS_ . Pēcpusdienā uz sarunām aicināti @VL_TBLNNK un @Apvienotais_ .— Krišjānis Kariņš (@krisjaniskarins) August 11, 2023
The chairman of the Progressives faction in the Saeima, Kaspars Briškens, revealed in an interview with Latvian Radio that his party agreed with New Unity on Friday to continue negotiations on the government's main priorities.
"In any case, this is a milestone that brings Latvia closer to greater clarity, making it possible to create a cohesive coalition in the shortest possible time, which is capable of facing the challenges facing Latvia," Briškens said.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the ZZS Saeima faction, Viktors Valainis, told Latvian Radio that the United List and National Alliance had been too resistant to change.
"For two months [ZZS] responded to the call from the head of the government, talking about many topics... which require a solution so that the Latvian state can have the ability to break out of the stagnation we find ourselves in. For two months [the United List and National Alliance] chose to ignore all this, and did not show any other activity that would show that they are focused on development," Valainis said.
Valainis revealed that "rapid progress" could be made starting next week, which could result in a government declaration.
At the same time, Valainis revealed that electricity distribution and transmission tariffs were discussed on Friday, which in the opinion of ZZS are "absolutely unacceptable", so work will be done on a solution.
Both the Progressives and ZZS said it was too early to talk about the distribution of ministerial posts.
Meanwhile the spurned United List and National Alliance showed no immediate appetite to continue talking with Kariņš on Friday, saying they would wait until after consultations with their parties over the weekend.
Regardless of the power shifts that emerged on Friday, the existing coalition remains in place for now.