Newly-elected politicians prepared to reform Latvia’s government model

Politicians of parties forming the ruling coalition in Latvia are prepared to change the country’s government model by introducing a political management model consisting of multiple levels and coordinating efforts to resolve problematic issues if need be instead of holding on to historically defined ministry framework.
This position was voiced at a conference organised on Wednesday, 26 October, by the Union of Economists together with the State President’s Chancellery titled Latvia’s National Strategy and Socio-political Consensus.
New Unity member Arvils Ašeradens said it is necessary to add changes to the State Administration Structure Law and Cabinet Structure Law in order to adopt ministries responsible for specific sectors or specific issues.
National Alliance member Roberts Zīle reminded during the discussion that when he was Latvia’s Minister of Finance, there was a minister directly responsible for revenue of the state. According to the politician, there are no objections to the creation of specialised ministries.
Politician from the Combined List Māris Kučinskis said his party does not have objections to the creation of a new Ministry of Environment and Energy. His party only wants a more detailed explanation of this ministry’s duties.
The president of the Economists Union Ojārs Kehris said the organisation proposes reforming the government model both in regards to government formation and operations.
He stressed it is necessary to implement improvements to the state management system – in legislative and executive power, because the current model does not reflect the government’s priorities and there is a risk of weak ministers.
A more modern model, according to the Economists Union, would be if parties forming the coalition name three to five priorities to implement by the next election. Based on that the prime minister would offer parties approximately 10 joint priorities and models for their implementation.

The Prime Minister would pick candidates from those proposed by parties. The PM would then submit candidates for approval to the president.

Currently ministers are more responsible before their respective parties, not the Prime Minister, said Kehris.
Ministers would compose the Cabinet of Ministers’ declaration and clarify the priority implementation plan. After that the Saeima would approve the prime minister’s and president’s proposed government model.
The prime minister’s tools would include committees, which would be headed by ministers of specific sectors. These committees would make the most important decisions, making meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers more formal, explained Kehris.
The Economists Union proposes adopting a minister’s post for special tasks, as well as specialised ministries. At the same time, this does not mean the number of ministries would increase, because a single ministry could have multiple ministers.
This would make decision-making more efficient and more competent, the government more politicially responsible, more professional and more competent. This would also allow parties to play a more active role in implementing their promises, said Kehris.

President Egils Levits said there are many sectors and problems that have no politicial or state official responsible for them.

This includes sectors like energy, climate, demography, communications, digital policy, crisis management, etc.
The president also said these sectors could be managed by first and second level political officials, as it was in the 90s. These officials could be put in office during the coalition formation process.
Levits believes parties should agree on first level political officials that would compose new ministries and second level officials – state ministers or deputy ministers, as it was in pre-war Latvia. Deputy ministers would be responsible for managing specific departments in charge of specific sectors.
This way deputy ministers would be in charge of specific sectors but without a specific ministry behind them.
The president said this would help find political officials in charge of specific and previously unresolved issues, as well as help form a national policy. At the same time, Levits said the approval of second level political officials should not increase the total number of workers of the central government apparatus.
Levits also mentioned that this would make the government more efficient, flexible and more capable of managing more different sectors.
Also read: Latvian PM says coalition partners close to agreeing on rule of law and good management principles