PM Kariņš remains in office after confidence vote

Latvia's Prime Minister, Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity), faced a motion of no confidence in the Saeima June 15.

The motion was brought by 15 deputies from the oppposition parties Latvia In First Place and For Stability! and debate started at 15:00 following an earlier scheduled meeting of the Saeima.

After a long and rather heated debate, the motion was declined, with 42 votes for no-confidence and 53 against it. All opposition parties voted for (Latvia First, For Stability!, Union of Greens and Farmers, Progressives, and non-partisan Glorija Grevcova) whereas all coalition parties voted against.

The debate was launched by Latvia In First Place leader Ainars Šlesers, sporting a hoodie with the slogan 'Atlaist Saeimu!!' [sic] which means 'Dismiss the Saeima!!' He accused the current government of not doing enough during its first six months in power despite promising extensive reforms and said Estonia and Lithuania supported economic development better than Latvia.

In a lengthy and somewhat rambling speech, he said medical tourism to Latvia should be encouraged and that the government was failing to do so. Instead of concentrating on Kariņš' failings as Prime Minister he offered scattered criticism of various ministers including those holding the Agriculture and Finance portfolios.

Indeed, instead of claiming that the government was doing the wrong things – as might be expected in a vote of no confidence motion – his criticism was mainly that it wasn't doing enough. If it did do more in areas such as healthcare reform, he would even support it, he said, while moving the no-confidence motion to dismiss it.

"If anyone thinks that what I'm saying is empty chatter, we'll get back to it later," said Šlesers, suggesting that delaying the dismissal of the government would only delay it until the fall session of the Saeima, which is due to start its summer break after its June 23 session.  

For Stability! deputies were also wearing hoodies, in an eye-catching orange color. Their leader Aleksejs Rosļikovs took a different approach to Šlesers, suggesting that Kariņš was a dominant politician and that most parties in Saeima were under his indirect sway. Therefore, getting rid of him would restore proper representation and self-respect to parties in parliament, he argued.

"Your ratings are not important to him [Kariņš]," said Rosļikovs. "He is too powerful, too clever."

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