New leader at the helm of Unity party

Economics Minister Arvils Ašeradens has been elected the new leader of the Vienotiba (Unity) political party in a last-ditch effort to revive the group's fortunes.

As recently as two years ago Vienotiba was riding high under Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, but during the intervening period internecine warfare has seen support all but collapse.

Former EU commissioner Andris Piebalgs took over leadership of the party a year ago but as he was not even involved in day-to-day politics, the party's strength has continued to ebb, with half a dozen MPs so disillusioned they are setting up a rival party.   

With Piebalgs quitting, at a congress August 19 Ašeradens was elected as chairman of the party, while Krisjanis Kariņš, a Member of the European Parliament, will become his deputy. 

The board of the party will consist of Vilnis Ķirsis, Rihards Kozlovskis, Edgars Rinkēvičs, Karlis Šadurskis, Janis Reirs, Ainars Latkovskis, Hosam Abu Meri, Laimdota Straujuma, Raimonds Čudars, Janis Rozenbergs, Olafs Pulkks, Uģis Rotbergs, Edgars Ikstens and Edmunds Jurevics -- a ratio of 13 men to one woman that was noted by several delegates as hardly sending out the right message.



"Vienotiba stands for a rapidly growing part of society and a modern, developed state of Latvia. We have a moral duty to fulfill this expectation... Vienotiba must againbe voice in the community as a powerful, innovative, patriotic political force capable of cooperating and agreeing with other democratic parties to form a modern Latvia together," said Ašeradens in his address to the congress.

In theory the board is elected for two years, but should the party fail to make it past the 5% of the vote threshold required to win seats in parliamentary elections next year, that tenure could be curtailed.

However, the new leader attempted to strike an upbeat note August 21 saying: "Vienotiba has a good basis for being elected to the next Saeima. It is adjudged to be lower in the eyes of voters than its potential really is." 



 

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