Latvia leader to step down this week after coalition partners oppose government reshuffle

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Latvia’s center-right prime minister, Krisjanis Karins, said Monday he will step down later this week after the two other members of his three-party governing coalition refused a reshuffle.

Karins said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the two other parties — the conservative National Alliance and the centrist electoral alliance United List — were “blocking work for welfare and economic growth.”

Karins, 56, had planned to stay on as prime minister after announcing a new round of coalition talks, but the two partners said it was against the Latvian Constitution to do so, the Baltic News Service said.

Following last October’s general election, the three parties signed a deal in December to form a coalition government. Together they have 54 seats in Latvia’s 100-seat parliament, the Saeima.

On Friday, Karins announced his intention to end the current grouping and form a new government coalition after the two parties rejected his proposals for a ministerial reshuffle and revised priorities. Latvian television said he would not be its leader.

Latvia and its Baltic neighbors, Estonia and Lithuania, have been hit hard by an energy crisis due to their dependence on Russian gas before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The three countries cut off natural gas deliveries from Russia after its invasion, and Latvia now relies mainly on its own gas reserves and imports from Lithuania, though cross-border deliveries have dwindled in the past weeks amid a cold spell.

Latvia currently has one of the highest inflation rates in the European Union, although it has eased in the past six months and was 6.4% in July.

Latvian television said Karins, who was born in Wilmington, Delaware, has asked his party, New Unity, to propose a new candidate for prime minister and that he would not be the leader of the next government.

It said he will submit his resignation to President Edgars Rinkevics on Thursday.

The next parliamentary election is scheduled for 2026.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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