New coalition still deciding about ministerial responsibilities

The three parties trying to put together a new government coalition have prepared a draft declaration of their intentions, but are still to agree on which of them will take charge at which ministries, Latvian Radio reports.

Despite the fact that the draft declaration will be discussed with social partners (representatives of entrepreneurs, employers' organizations, trade unions, and local municipalities) on Wednesday, September 13, and that the Saeima is expected to decide on the approval of the new government already on Friday, September 15, the three parties – New Unity, the Progressives, and te Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) have yet to divide all ministerial portfolios between them. 

Evika Siliņa, nominated for the post of prime minister, from New Unity, still refuses to reveal which parties are in line to get which responsibilities, Latvian Radio said, saying that premature announcements could further delay a process which has already dragged on for a long time.  

On Tuesday morning, potential coalition partners met to discuss the text of the government's declaration, the coalition agreement and the division of ministerial portfolios. The text of the government's declaration is said to be almost finished, and it is expected to be made public soon and discussed with the government's social partners on Wednesday. 

Although there is a plan in place, the Saeima will vote on the approval of the new government already on Friday, as the discussions on the division of responsibilities continue. Siliņa explained the reasons for naming the positions of ministers already today with choices in the government formation process.

"I can only assure you that the focus of this government declaration will be on the people. It is clear that there are very important questions about the economy, growth, health, education and security, but without the people of Latvia we will not be able to do anything," said Siliņa.

According to Latvian Radio the number of ministries to be entrusted to each political force is agreed in principle, based roughly on their parliamentary strength. New Unity is in line to get eight seats in the government, ZZS will get four plus the position of Speaker of the Saeima, and the Progressives will get three ministerial portfolios.

Following the resignation of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš on August 14, the next government is expected to be formed by the three political forces above. Its parliamentary majority would be slimmer even than the one it replaces. The three parties would control 52 seats in the 100-seat Saeima directly and one more courtesy of a cooperation agreement with independent MP and former Rīga mayor Olegs Burovs. The outgoing coalition of New Unity, the United List and the National Alliance has 54 seats in Saeima.

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