Kariņš signals talks on a 'broader' coalition are coming

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) wasted little time after the election of party colleague Edgars Rinkēvičs May 31 in announcing his desire to "broaden" the existing three-party ruling coalition with the addition of more parties.

The current ruling coalition of New Unity (JV), the United List (AS) and the National Alliance (NA) was unable to agree on a single candidate for the post of president. The United List backed its founder, Uldis Pīlēns, the National Alliance watched as their preferred candidate, Egils Levits, withdrew from the race before voting day (and did not vote for any of the alternative candidates), and New Unity managed to get its man, Edgars Rinkēvičs, over the line.  

Now, after the election of Rinkēvičs with the help of opposition parties the Greens and Farmers' Union (ZZS) and the Progressives (P), the stage appears to be set for a wider shake-up, reports Latvian Radio.

Kariņš said:

"I have always wanted a wider coalition. I have not talked about it until now. Today I started talking about it again. In fact, this is what we should be looking at. It is better that we politicians look at what we have in common rather than what divides us.

"'If we could learn something from our hockey boys, it's that when you put your shoulders together, you can make a difference."

The Prime Minister said that the government needs greater dynamics and wider support in the Saeima for the further progress of the reform of the school network and the reform of the health service network, more efficient listing of state capital companies on the stock exchange and the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, among other important issues.

"What I wanted when actually forming this government was a wider coalition. I have wanted it all these months, nothing has changed," said Kariņš.

"These reforms will require broad public understanding and support. The Saeima represents the whole society in some way. The broader we are, the easier it will be. for the country to implement these reforms and also move forward. This is a negotiation process, I am determined to continue the work, I invite everyone to take three breaths and think. I am not proposing any revolution," noted Kariņš.

His words suggest that attempts will be made to add ZZS and the Progressives to the existing coalition – at which point the question becomes whether the National Alliance and United List will tolerate diluting their current sway in a three-party coalition into a five-party coalition or whether they will prefer to walk away and take their chances in the opposition. 

Prime Minister Kariņš plans to organize negotiations on coalition expansion with existing partners AS and NA on Friday after returning from the meeting of the European political community in Moldova, said Latvian Radio. 

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