Potential new Unity leader threatens to leave

Edvards Smiltens, vice-chairman of the Unity party, today stepped down from the position of the deputy head of the Saeima faction and suspended his candidacy from upcoming election of the party’s chairman, according to an entry he posted on Facebook.

The Unity party is expected to hold a congress on August 19 to elect a new chairman.

Smiltens said in his statement that he is dissatisfied with the situation that there are two candidates nominated for the party’s chairpersons – he and Saeima faction head Solvita Aboltina. "As we have completely opposing views about further development of the party, the Unity faction has to make the decision on the party’s future and the person they trust," he said.

The politician told LETA that in case he gets elected as the party’s chairman, but the faction is still headed by a person with an opposing opinion would lead to an unacceptable situation. Therefore he has urged the faction to make an open and fair decision, choosing between him and Aboltina. So far the faction has not voted on the matter.

He is confident that the only possible future for the party lies in radical changes. "I am sure that in order for Unity to develop successfully, it should have a single leader with a clear-cut mandate," he said.

Smiltens said that the decision of the faction will also determine whether he remains in the party. "Either I receive confidence mandate as the party’s leader or I leave the party," he said.

He explained that the board was discussing the party’s future and several board member called to introduce changes in the leadership of the Saeima faction "to open a different development perspective and mark radical changes", but there had been no response to the call.

As reported, initially it was planned to hold the congress in September, but Piebalgs recently announced that he will not be running for the position of the party’s chairman, and the congress will be held sooner – on August 19.

Smiltens said he would be prepared to run for party leader at the next party congress.

Piebalgs was appointed party leader on June 4 of last year, replacing the party's controversial then leader Solvita Aboltina.

Just this week five Unity MPs announced that they'll leave to join a new party. 

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