Latvia PM party has fresh doubts over 3-party govt

RIGA Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:24am EDT

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RIGA Oct 25 (Reuters) - A member of the Latvian prime minister's political bloc has called for a nationalist party to be dropped from the ruling coalition, only days after agreement was reached on a new government, an official said on Monday.

A fresh decision on the government line-up was due later on Monday, said the senior party official, Solvita Aboltina.

Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, whose Unity bloc won 33 seats in the 100-seat parliament in an election on Oct. 2, said on Friday his new government would be formed with current partners the Union of Greens and Farmers and a nationalist bloc.

Including the nationalist Everything for Latvia/For Fatherland and Freedom party, the current coalition commands 63 seats. This would drop to 55 if the nationalists were out, meaning they are not needed for a simple majority.

But Dombrovskis has wanted as broad a coalition as possible to better implement further austerity measures as the first important task for the new government will be drawing up a 2011 budget with steps to reduce the budget deficit.

But some of the nationalists' policies, for instance promoting the repatriation of Russian speakers to Russia to boost the presence of ethnic Latvians, have caused unease among some of Dombrovskis's allies.

"The Unity board has received an application from the Society for Different Politics (a member of the Unity bloc) with a draft resolution calling for the coalition to be formed only by Unity and the Union of Greens and Farmers," said Aboltina.

Aboltina, a co-leader of Unity, told state radio that the Unity board would take a decision on whether the government will be formed from two or three parties on Monday.

Dombrovskis has to had to grapple with both sides of the ethnic question in Latvia, which has a large Russian-speaking minority but where resentment against Russia and Russians after 50 years of Soviet rule remains strong among some Latvians.

Dombrovskis earlier failed to agree on the participation in the government of a party largely backed by Russian-speakers, Harmony Centre, which came second in the election. Sensitive issues from the Soviet past also overshadowed those talks. (Reporting by Aija Braslina; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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