Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 130

. On the opening day of Latvia’s new parliament yesterday, President Guntis Ulmanis designated Maris Grinblats, leader of the Fatherland and Freedom Party and of the National Bloc (NB) alliance of rightist and right-of-center parties, to form a new government. But the National Conciliation (NC) coalition of left-leaning parties promptly elected its representatives to the parliament’s leadership posts by narrow but consistent margins. Ilga Kreituse (Owners’ Democratic Party) was elected chairman of parliament, replacing Anatolijs Gorbunovs (Latvia’s Way) who had in that capacity played a key role in Latvia’s struggle for independence.

NC’s countercandidate for the post of prime minister, Democratic Owners’ leader Ziedonis Cevers, blasted Ulmanis for designating Grinblats. The latter is expected to try to form an NB/Latvia’s Way cabinet. But he said that yesterday’s voting in parliament showed that the cabinet he intends to form would not gain parliamentary approval at present, and that he would therefore wait for some time before presenting a new cabinet to the legislature. (10)

Grinblats, 41, a co-founder of Latvia’s Popular Front which spearheaded the struggle for independence from the USSR, stands, like his party and its allies, for a rapid transition to free-market economics and full-scale integration with the West.

Cevers, 35, is a former Komsomol leader whose career, before and since 1991, has led his political opponents to accuse him of promoting Russian and underground business interests. The Socialist party, comprised mainly of local Russian communists, is not a member of NC but its deputies crucially helped NC to take over the parliament’s leadership. (See the November 6 Monitor for the two coalitions’ political platforms).