As the Big Bang, perhaps, marked the beginning of our universe, also Valdis Zatlers’ decision to form a three-party coalition with Zatlers Reform Party (ZRP), Unity and the pro-Russian political association Harmony Center (HC) may give rise to a new reality – a single political nation of Latvians.
Zatlers’ actions during the first round of talks on the parliamentary majority building showed that a new star had emerged in Latvia’s sky. The bright personality was marked not only with thoughtful tactics, but also an impressive political strategy. Zatlers finally shook off an impression that he was merely acting in the interests of others. While Augusts Brigmanis, head of Greens and Farmers Union (GFU) faction, was trying to convince readers of the newspaper Neatkarīgā that it is only revenge that guides Zatlers, the ex-president demonstrated what distinguishes a real statesman from a mere politician. A statesman first considers the society’s interests, not those of a particular party. This is exactly what Zatlers did by suggesting a coalition of 73 members: ZRP + Unity + HC. The solution fully meets the message of the President Andris Berzins, who had called for a broad and stable coalition.
Zatlers’ checkmate came slowly, testing the patience of parties elected in the 11th Saeima. Having made sure that HC was not willing to take the initiative in the ruling coalition formation, he announced that Unity was ZRP’s closest ideological partner. The national association All for Latvia!-TB/LNNK kept silent while HC was ready to agree to whatever compromises just to be in the government. Unity, unable to stand this for any longer, announced that they were pre-approving Zatlers’ decision in choosing the third coalition partner.
Zatlers’ held on to his pause until young nationalists could bear it no longer. After the meeting with President Berzins, the leader of AL-TB.LNNK Raivis Dzintars announced that he was feeling like President would agree to a “national coalition”. These words triggered an avalanche. The position of Girts Valdis Kristovskis, leader of Civil Union, which was liquidated upon entering Unity, was clear – no dealings with HC. Unity’s leader Solvita Aboltina rushed to announce the same. She implied to Zatlers that the time Unity had given ZRP to decide on the third partner had run out and her party was now to take the final decision. Even the usually reserved head of Unity faction Dzintars Zakis threatened that the party could join the opposition if Zatlers asked HC to take part in the coalition. The current Prime Minister from Unity Valdis Dombrovskis was the only one to refrain from singing along to his party’s melody.
Some panicking notes were now also heard in the speech of Janis Urbanovich, HC’s prime minister candidate. In his interviews to the radio Baltkom and other media, he stepped down resentfully. No one paid attention to the fact that ZRP board member Victor Makarov wished Unity being calm and constructive via the same radio.
Zatlers’ final move
The decisive decision of Zatlers was nearly spoiled by Nils Ushakov, Chairman of HC. In order for Zatlers not to change his mind and Unity to agree to the proposed coalition, Ushakov demonstrated willingness to sweep away the Socialist Party from the association’s board. Without three socialists elected in the Saeima, tandem ZRP-HC would have only 50 parliamentary seats. This would mean nothing but one – HC splits just like once For Human Rights in United Latvia, supported mainly by ethnic Russians. Consequently, ZRP + Unity + The National Association could make up the ruling coalition.
Alfreds Rubiks in turn showed his political wisdom in response to these circumstances. He did not dwell on the fact that Ushakov recognized occupation without HC’s consent. Neither did he comment on the unprecedented political generosity of his younger colleague. Rubiks’ position is pragmatic enough – the Socialist Party is set to support any government with HC partnership.
What now? President Berzins’ table is expecting a list of at least 51 members who support Zatlers’ proposed government. Neither Unity, nor HC have room enough for maneuvering. Unity can, of course, go for the opposition – as highlighted by Krsitovskis, Aboltina and Zakis. However, first and foremost, the predecessors of the party (New Era Party) are already experienced in someone slamming the doors right in their face. Their return to the government took years and serious inter-party reforms. Secondly, Unity’s pragmatic wing, consisting of Pabriks, Stokenbergs, Loskutovs and other Society for Different Politics members are ready to collaborate with HC on a national level. Finally, Dombrovskis has not spoken yet. It is exactly him whom Zatlers has offered to lead the Cabinet of Ministers for the third time.
It is quite possible that if six members of the Civil Union, elected in the 11th Saeima from Unity treat the matter bluntly and opt for an opposition with AL-TB/LNNK and GFU rather than a government with HC, then 6 parliamentary members from Society for Different Politics (Unity) will adhere to the opposite point of view. In that case, Zatlers’ vision will be supported by 59 deputies and Unity will be on the brink of splitting up. Here we would like to repeat one more time that Dombrovskis has not yet voiced his standpoint.
One should not rule out that Unity could propose Zatlers the following – we will work with HC on the condition that the socialist Rubiks is excluded. Moreover, it this case one could refer to the fact that it was Ushakov himself, not Unity, who gave room to such an option – excluding Rubiks’ fellow socialists from HC. Consequently, HC will be trapped. Its members will be forced either to get rid of socialists (their “ballast”) or miss out on joining the government, which could quite complicate the future political carrier of Ushakov.
Thus Zatlers has showed that he is much better at calculations than his political companions. A real strategist. Bravo!