Bondars to fight for Presidency

The opposition Latvian Regional Alliance (LRA) on Thursday decided to name its leader Martins Bondars as a candidate for the Latvian presidency, parliamentry faction head Dainis Liepins told the BNS newswire on Thursday.

Bondars told BNS that he had agreed to put his name forward - the first person to do so officially.

“Latvia in the coming four years needs a president who can represent the country internationally. My colleagues decided that I am suitable for the position,” said Bondars, a former basketball star and banker who also headed the office of President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

Asked whether he will manage to win support of other parties, Bondars said that public opinion is of greater importance - despite the fact that it is a secret vote by members of parliament, not a popular vote, that will decide the matter.

If Latvian residents support him, other political forces would also follow, Bondars said.

Bondars' party, which entered Saeima for the first time following elections on October 4 last year, recently tried unsuccesfully to reform the system by which the President is elected. The party called for an open vote among MPs so that lawmakers had to justify their choice to the public, but the proposals were not supported by other parties. 

LRA said in a statement to the press that the Latvian president should be able to use his status so that Latvia is able to achieve its political interests in a short term and long term.

The president should be able to define Latvia’s domestic and foreign policies, should not be afraid of open elections and should have active political experience. LRA believes that Bondars meets these criteria.

Latvia is to hold presidential elections in summer this year. Incumbent President Andris Berzins has not yet made up his mind about a possible reelection bid. The ruling Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) has already voiced support to Berzins’ second term in the office, as he was a former ZZS deputy himself.

Other candidates have yet to be confirmed, though there is no shortage of speculation about who they might be with some other names being discussed in the corridors of power including European High Court judge Egils Levits, former EU Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and the former diplomat and current head of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Ojars Eriks Kalnins. 

Politics
Politics