Latvia: new currency, new leader – but no problem

Latvia’s gotten credit for its generally sober and steady handling of overlapping political and economic transitions, but is everybody sold on all the changes?

Ints Kalnins/Reuters
Long-time civil servant Laimdota Straujuma, who was nominated as Latvia's prime minister, smiles as she speaks to the media during a news conference in Riga, Latvia, January 6, 2014.

Latvia has bolstered its image as a stable polity with the nomination this weekend of Laimdota Straujuma to be the country’s next prime minister. An economist who currently heads the agriculture ministry, Ms. Straujuma belonged to no party until joining the ruling Unity party over the weekend. She has since sounded notes of consistency of economic policy so as not to spook investors as it prepares for fall elections and begins a new chapter as the newest eurozone member.

“This is merely a caretaker government until the elections in October,” says our Baltics correspondent in Tallinn. “[S]he has stated explicitly the intention to continue the austerity program of her predecessor.”

Her nomination by the Unity party follows the resignation in November of the previous prime minister, who stepped down to take responsibility for a roof collapse at a supermarket that left more than 50 dead. The sudden change at the top didn’t faze analysts as the preparations for the Jan. 1 accession to the eurozone were already in place.... For the rest of the story, continue reading at our new business publication Monitor Frontier Markets.

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