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Parties jostle for position in wake of Kariņš' resignation announcement

Following the decision of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) to resign, parties within and without the existing government coalition have been discussing what they plan to do next and – perhaps more importantly – with whom, reports Latvian Television.

Kariņš leaves the political landscape in a state of uncertainty, halfway through his planned switch from the current coalition involving New Unity, the National Alliance and the United List to a proposed new coalition consisting of New Unity, the Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) and the Progressives. Whether such a major change will now go ahead without the man who was pushing for it seems highly questionable.  

For its part, the National Alliance has been drawing up its "red lines", commenting on possible activities in the new government coalition, while ZZS says it would be ready to join a coalition that has a "clearly understandable and dynamic work plan", according to interviews with party representatives on LTV's "Morning Panorama" August 15.

Edgars Tavars, the leader of the United List Saeima faction, predicted that New Unity will nominate its candidate for the position of Prime Minister, however, if not, then probably his party and the National Alliance will sit at the table together and will look for a possible candidate to suit their conservative stances.

Tavars predicted that the first outlines of the coalition could be detected at the end of this week or at the beginning of next week.

"We respect and respect the results of the Saeima elections, where New Unity won 26 mandates," said Tavars, adding that it would ultimately be the President who would play a decisive role in nominating the potential Prime Minister.

As for the possible AS candidate for prime minister, Tavars pointed out that pary founder Uldis Pīlēns was a possibility, despite not being an elected Saeima deputy: "At the same time, we are aware that the United List has 15 votes in parliament, we will have to look for a common denominator for a single prime minister candidate who will be able to gather at least 51 votes."

Meanwhile, the representative of the National Alliance faction, Jānis Dombrava, said that the existing government coalition might regroup and continue.

"If we look at what has happened, we have a functioning coalition, which is united in all Saeima votes with 54 votes, but unfortunately, as a result of political games, New Unity has achieved the resignation of Mr. Kariņš. This does not prevent these three parties from working together, because this practice has resulted in several good decisions that strengthen national security, which is, in my opinion, the priority issue," said Dombrava.

Dombrava confirmed that the "red lines" of the National Alliance remained refusing to work with any political forces it considers pro-Kremlin parties working in the Saeima. Dombrava specifically mentioned the party For Stability!, with which the National Union is not ready to cooperate, as well as the Progressives faction, which, Dombrava claimed, "on some issues has taken positions that surpass even For Stability!"

Dombrava also said that there is no point in discussions with the Latvia First party, because its representatives are currently more inclined to dismiss the Saeima than to work in a coalition format.

Viktors Valainis, chairman of the board of the Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS), stated in a conversation with "Morning Panorama" that the current colleagues in the government should take a critical look at what the existing coalition was like.

"It was their decisions that brought down this government. Not agreeing to the ministerial reshuffle, it was irresponsible to cling to the chairs of the ministers in these circumstances," said Valainis.

In the view of ZZS, now would be the last moment to change the political order, and ZZS would be ready to join the coalition "with a dynamic and clearly understandable work plan". 

Similar feinting and jostling for position is likely to continue all week, with Kariņš scheduled to formally tender his resignation on Thursday. But even after that, the current government will continue in a caretaker capacity until an alternative is agreed upon.

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