A Latvian opposition party said on Monday it was ready to start talks on joining the government, which would shore up Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis as he seeks to keep to the terms of an international bailout deal.
Dombrovskis lost his majority when the largest coalition party, the People's Party, quit the government last week.
With seven months left until a parliamentary election, it distanced itself from the austerity measures being implemented as part of a 7.5 billion euro bailout from the International Monetary Fund and European Union.
The Latvia's First Party/Latvia's Way (LPP/LC) party held the prime minister's post when Latvia negotiated the bailout in late 2008. "The party has taken a decision to start talks (with Dombrovskis)," LPP/LC leader Ainars Slesers told journalists.
"We are open for cooperation ... we are ready to give support," said Slesers, who is one of Latvia's wealthiest businessmen and also deputy mayor of Riga.
Slesers said one of the LPP/LC's conditions was a six-month action plan from Dombrovskis on tackling unemployment and implementing structural reforms.
Dombrovskis has said he is ready to carry on as head of a minority administration, but would prefer to rebuild his majority to block attempts to pass spending measures that undermine the commitments made to Latvia's lenders.
The LPP/LC party was part of the coalition that held office before Dombrovskis took power in March 2009.
It also supported the government in a vote on the IMF deal, when the People's Party voted against despite still being in the government. But LPP/LC has also held initial talks on closer cooperation with the People's Party.
Slesers said he wanted an official invitation to talks on joining the government as he had so far only had an exchange of text messages.
Latvia is trying to recover from the European Union's worst recession. Its economy shrank 18 percent last year, and to meet its bailout terms, it has slashed spending and raised taxes.
Dombrovskis's minority government now has 46 seats in parliament. LPP/LC has 10 seats.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 22 Mart 2010, 23:02