Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 141

Democratic Owners’ (Saimnieks) party leader Ziedonis Cevers, the left-leaning National Conciliation Bloc’s nominee for prime minister, expects imminently to receive the mandate to form Latvia’s new government from President Guntis Ulmanis, after the right-of-center National Bloc’s nominee and Ulmanis’ first choice Maris Grinblats failed in that task. Grinblats’ cabinet list, based essentially on the coalition which governed from 1991 to 1994, was voted down November 23 by parliament in a 51 to 48 vote strictly along ideological lines. The NCB now has a chance to install its government by the same margin. But moderate parties in both blocs, notably NB’s Latvia’s Way and NCB’s National Harmony Party of former foreign minister Janis Jurkans, are now calling for an effort to form a broadly based governing coalition, rather than a narrowly based bloc government. (11)

The September 30-October 1 elections produced a hung parliament, with each bloc controlling 47 to 48 seats in the 100-seat chamber. An NCB government would be hostage to the Socialist Party, the renamed but unreconstructed and mainly Russian communist party, which holds 5 parliamentary seats. The confused situation stems partly from the decision of the People’s Movement for Latvia with its 16 deputies to join the left-leaning bloc after having campaigned on a supposedly right-wing platform. Its leader, Latvian-born German citizen Joachim Siegerist, is considered a radical-right populist in Germany, and Ulmanis has publicly vowed to isolate him. Siegerist was seriously injured in a traffic accident in Italy last week, which fortuitously removes him for the time being from contention in Riga.

Moldova Wavering Under Russian Pressure.