Wins new posts: Coalition shows unity as law amendments tabled in controversial procedure

Inese Lībiņa-Egnere and Krišjānis Kariņš (from the right) MPs representing the coalition “Jaunās Vienotības” can be satisfied, because they managed to get through the proposal for the new minister’s post. From the left: Saeima member Andris Spruds (“Progressives”).

Photo: Zane Bitere/LETA

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On Thursday, the majority of the Saeima supported the amendments to the Law on the Cabinet of Ministers and the amendments to the Law on the State Administration, which will give the chance to the government creator Krišjānis Kariņas (“JV”) to invite a new minister of climate and energy to the government, as well as to approve fellow ministers, which will also be a new position.

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Viktors Valainis, the leader of the faction of the Union of Greens and Farmers, informed the Saeima that “this issue will be subjected to evaluation in the Constitutional Court with high reliability”.

The reason for this is not only doubts as to whether the procedure has been followed, because contrary to what was decided in the commission not to forward these draft laws for consideration in the Saeima, the parliament nevertheless looked at them and adopted them. ZZS also has objections to the content of the documents.

The debate was mostly not about the submitted proposals, but about the procedure by which the coalition advances the bills in the Saeima.

It has already been reported that the coalition does not have a majority in the Legal Commission and is unable to secure support for its initiatives.

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Such situations, when the Saeima considers draft laws that the responsible commission has asked not to move forward, are very rare. However, referring to one such occasion, Inese Lībiņa-Egnere (“JV”) considered the repetition of a similar precedent justified, “because such a precedent has already been established”.

We are talking about amendments to the Law on Local Governments, which were rejected by the responsible commission in the 13th Saeima, but the deputies accepted them at the Saeima session on December 19, 2019. Gundars Daudze (ZZS) reacted to what was said with a reply:

“The kind of permissiveness that flourished in the previous Saeima has never existed in this house, so it should not be cultivated further.”

The former chairman of the Constitutional Court Gunārs Kūtris (ZZS) also believes that “a bad mistake should not be turned into a parliamentary tradition”. In his opinion, the chairman of the commission should have withdrawn the draft laws if the commission decided not to forward them for consideration. If the five project submitters asked to include them in the agenda, then the parliament would have to vote on it.

“Now there is a reason to challenge them in the Constitutional Court, because it does not correspond to the principle of good legislation,” says G. Kūtris.

Kristaps Kristopans (“LPV”) reminded at the press conference after the session that there are 75 new MPs in the 14th Saeima, to whom the future coalition is setting a very bad example, “implementing its policy in such a shameless way”.

When the MPs had spoken about the procedure, not about the proposals under consideration, the Speaker of the Saeima Edvards Smiltēns (“AS”) said that he deliberately did not interrupt the speakers, even though the MPs did not debate the specific proposal.

“But it is in the interest of the public to hear the arguments of both sides, as they were presented here,” said E. Smiltēns, who is a lawyer. He explained that by the decision of the Saeima, both projects have been recognized as urgent, setting a specific date – December 1 – when they must be considered at the Saeima session. Therefore, the projects must be in working order. Former Speaker of the Saeima Ināra Mūrniece (NA) also emphasized that “the decision of the Saeima is higher than the decision of the commission”.

The Green and Farmers’ Union and the “Latvija First” party had submitted several proposals for the unification of ministerial posts in the Cabinet of Ministers’ Establishment Law. ZZS proposed to combine the positions of the ministers of economy and transport, as well as the positions of the ministers of internal affairs and justice.

In turn, “LPV” recommended reorganizing the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, combining it with the Ministry of Economy. The said motions were rejected.

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It should be reminded that similar initiatives on the unification of ministries were proposed in the 13th Saeima by the then New Conservative Party and the “KPV LV” party.

The votes at Thursday’s session showed that the coalition is disciplined, as all 52 present members of the parties of the future government voted unanimously for both laws and the proposals presented in them.

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