RIGA Oct 25 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)