Zatlers gave the "ultimatum" to the 100-member parliament on January 14, the day after a peaceful anti-government rally was followed by rioting.
The president listed a series of measures taken by the Saeima hitherto that, as I read it, basically said that doing a two-thirds-assed (as opposed to half-assed) job was enough, together with the new government of fall-guy Valdis Dombrovskis, the economic crisis, the talks with the IMF, blah blah - was reason to give the Saeima another chance.
The reaction in internet comments has been pretty harsh. Many are calling Zatlers a wimp.
My take -- dismissing the Saeima would have merely paved the way for a Chinese-fire-drill-at-monkey house style election. The People's Party (Tautas Partija) would probably have taken a bad hit, but populists, crazies and the politically inexperienced would probably have been elected in a hasty and desperate campaign, left with a nearly impossible task of forming a viable government.
At the same time, it is obvious that no election can prevent Latvia's rapid slide toward economic collapse and state bankruptcy.