Evika Siliņa is New Unity's party pick for PM

Following the decision of the current Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity party) to resign, his party has nominated current Minister of Welfare, Evika Siliņa, to fill the post of Prime Minister, reported Latvian Television August 16.

Following rumors early on Wednesday, confirmation came after a meeting of the New Unity party council.

Siliņa was the only candidate evaluated at the session of the Saeima faction and received unanimous support, LTV.

Siliņa stated that she is aware that the work of the prime minister is not easy: "I am demanding of myself and also of others, I think that we will informally start negotiations quite quickly. We will definitely work for a while longer as the existing government."

Siliņa emphasized that her first goals in the position of prime minister would be national security, as well as improving the quality of life of the population, because "increasing prices are one of the priority tasks".

Also, Siliņa pointed out that it is important to continue the changes started by the previous government: to provide accessible education, organized health services, and human rights issues. In the shorter term, work on the state budget is important, she suggested.

"The challenge is quite big, maybe I represent the next generation among my more experienced colleagues," said Siliņa.

Commenting on the possible coalition of the new government in case the President nominates her for the position of Prime Minister, Siliņa stopped short if any definitive statement of her preferences, which suggests the conundrum left to her by Kariņš remains virtually unchanged.

"Let's see how it will develop. We can already count on a certain majority of votes. I understand that it is important for us to have the widest possible coalition, but I will definitely not hesitate," said Siliņa, explaining that it might include New Unity, the Progressives and the Union of Greens and Farmers. "But I would really like to see the United List and the National Alliance in this coalition as well," said Siliņa, repeating her predecessor's common refrain.

The coalition partners of the Kariņš government – the United List and the National Alliance – have previously expressed their readiness to continue working in government with another prime minister nominated by New Unity rather than expanding the coalition, as Kariņš desired.

Kariņš plans to officially inform President Edgars Rinkēvičs about the resignation of his government on Thursday, August 17. After that, the President has promised to start consultations with all factions represented in the Saeima, after which he will also nominate the new prime minister. So while Siliņa's is likely to be the name he eventually chooses, it is by no means guaranteed, despite his long personal association with the party prior to becoming head of state.

If Siliņa, born in 1975, does eventually become Prime Minister, she would be only the second woman to fill the role, following Laimdota Straujuma (2011-2014).

According to her official CV, she is a qualified lawyer with several degrees in domestic and international law and speaks Latvian, English and Russian. Before being elected to Saeima on the New Unity ticket last year, she was parliamentary secretary at the Interior Ministry and before that was an advisor at the same ministry.


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