National Alliance supports potential second term for President Levits

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The National Alliance party (NA) has expressed support for the incumbent President Egils Levits being re-elected, Latvian Radio reported on April 17. The New Unity (JV) has also previously stated it supported Levits.

Levits has not yet confirmed his run for the presidential contest. The only official candidate currently is entrepreneur and founder of the United List political grouping, Uldis Pīlēns.

In a statement to the media, the National Alliance praised Levits' past work, especially in strengthening Latvia's security, representing foreign policy interests, promoting demography and a 'Latvian' Latvia. The National Alliance were long-term champions of the notion of Levits as president before he eventually stood for the position four years ago.

"In a geopolitical situation with a risk of war in Europe and threat to security in our region, the coalition must be united and accountable. The President of Latvia should therefore be elected by a majority of the coalition. The President of the State must not be elected by a majority in which pro-Kremlin parties play a crucial role. At the same time, opposition members are called upon to support Levits' candidacy," said Raivis Dzintars, chairman of the National Alliance.

After a discussion with the National Alliance, Levits did not confirm whether he would be prepared to run for president. However, political scientist and director of the think-tank Providus Iveta Kažoka said in an interview on LTV that the fact that Levits had gone to talk to the National Alliance shows that he wanted to be re-elected.

Kažoka stated though that Levits might have difficulty collecting the majority of 51 votes as the coalition party United List has expressed support of Uldis Pīlēns. In Latvia, a president is not elected by popular vote, but by the 100 Saeima deputies. 51 votes are needed to be elected.

After a governent meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (JV) said it was desirable for the ruling coalition to agree on one candidate for Latvia's next president.

Karins believes that an agreement on a common candidate would make work for all the parties concerned easier and ensure "certain predictability".

The prime minister noted that with nearly four weeks left to the May 13 deadline for nominations, the coalition still has time to reach an agreement on a presidential candidate.

With the backing of NA (13 seats in Saeima) and JV (26 seats), Levits would have just 39 votes. The opposition Progressives (P) hold 10 seats and might also back Levits, taking the total to 49 – though it would be richly ironic if they were the ones to make a difference given that the National Alliance insisted on their exclusion from the ruling coalition during the government formation process. However, even with the Progressives on board, at least two more votes would need to be found from opposition parties or from United List deputies willing to break ranks from support for Pīlēns.

As for Pīlēns, he currently has the backing of his United List (15 seats). If all opposition deputies except the Progressives weighed in behind him, he would collect 51 votes exactly. But opposition parties are not going to lend their support for nothing and only time will tell what deals will need to be done behind closed doors. Similarly, if and when Levits confirms a run, concerte efforts will need to be made to woo both the Progressives and a couple of rebels.

In addition, it is by no means certain that Pīlens and Levits will be the only contenders. There is still plenty of time for other candidates to come forward, each with their own particular appeal to part of the political spectrum. 

The presidential vote will take place on May 31, 2023. For a full account of how the president is chosen on voting day, check this story from our archives. In addition the official presidential website has plenty of information in English.

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