Latvian government breaks longevity record

Despite several predictions at the time of its formation that it wouldn't last long, the government of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) on January 5 became the longest-serving single administration in Latvian history, the Cabinet Office said.

Admittedly in the cut and thrust world of Latvian politics, governments tend to have a short shelf life. Kariņš' is the 40th administration since the foundation of democratic Latvia in 1918 and has now survived for 1,078 days.

In doing so he exceeds the 1,077 days of party colleague Valdis Dombrovskis. He was PM during another particularly turbulent period – the global economic crisis of 2009 – and Dombrovskis took charge with Latvia seemingly on the brink of bankruptcy following the collapse of Parex bank and the taking of an emergency IMF loan. He was expected to last a matter of months, at best.

While there is far from universal praise for the current coalition government and continual discussion of whether it has handled the coronacrisis well or poorly, the presence of the pandemic has likely prevented some of the usual behind-the-scenes double-crossing that usually accompanies having numerous competing parties in harness, if only because taking on responsibility for the fight against Covid is unlikely to endear any party to the voters for very long.

Nevertheless, it looks as if the chief lesson for Latvian politicians is: if you want to last at the top, take over when there is a major crisis. Whether Kariņš gets another go at the head of the cabinet table remains to be seen during the next Saeima elections on October 1... if he lasts that long.

 

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