Latvian Prime Minister Kariņš announces resignation

Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) has decided to resign after all and has called for his New Unity party to advance its “next, new” Prime Minister candidate, Kariņš announced at a press conference on Monday, August 14, before the scheduled Coalition Cooperation Council meeting.

Kariņš said that on Thursday, August 17, he would inform the president officially about his resignation – though surprise Monday announcement will inevitably spark days of speculation.

He confirmed that he has asked New Unity to select a new candidate for the post of Prime Minister and that he would not be the leader of the next government, signaling his intent to step out of the limelight.

As recently as Friday, Kariņš had stated he intended to form a new government and stay at the helm of it, but the weekend clearly gave him time to reflect and dramatically change his approach.

Kariņš told the media in a briefing that the development of the country needed a strong and dynamic government, which can also make difficult decisions. “But right now, after lengthy negotiations, it was clear to me that [the current coalition partners] the National Alliance and the United List are doing everything to brake dynamism,” Kariņš said.

“If this dynamism cannot be found in this government, a new, other government is needed,” Kariņš said.

Kariņš expressed confidence that the next candidate for Prime Minister will be able to form a new government that will be able to ensure the development of the country.

In turn, he promised to support the next candidate for the post of Prime Minister and to do everything in his power to form a strong government and coalition.

When asked why he would no longer be prepared to take the helm of the government, Karins stated that from the first day he became Prime Minister, his aim was to ensure stability and development on the government's side, and that any country is in trouble when an official begins to hold on to their position and their chair, “I have never taken this responsibility with the idea that power is my purpose”.

“And this is my opportunity to help ensure a smooth transition of power,” Kariņš said.

He thanked all government ministers for their past work and voters for their trust and said that existing ministers would continue work until the next government was approved by the Saeima.

As reported by LSM last year, Kariņš tenure at the top of the executive is the longest in Latvian history. He assumed the position of Prime Minister on January 23, 2019 – 1,664 days ago. 

Within the corridors of power in Rīga it has been rumored for months that Kariņš was seeking a return to Brussels, where he served as an MEP, in some capacity, though he has not publicly confirmed any such desire. Another whisper has it that he might continue as Foreign Minister, the portfolio he is currently fulfilling alongside his Prime Ministerial duties.

Attention will now switch to who will be his likely replacement and whether whoever is chosen will be able to – or will even want to – follow Kariņš' expressed desire to ditch current coalition partners the National Alliance and the United List in favor of the opposition Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) and Progressives. A likely nominee is Finance Minister Arvils Ašeradens, though among New Unity's current ministers, Evika Siliņa (Welfare) and Inese Lībiņa-Egnere might also be in the frame. However, once Kariņš makes good on his pledge to resign on Thursday, it will be up to President Rinkēvičs – his former close party colleague – to nominate someone he believes could form a viable administration, and that need not necessarily be from New Unity, even though it is the largest party in parliament. 


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