Candidates for first open presidential election to be sought starting February

Within three weeks, the five ruling parties are planning to start talks over choosing the next presidential candidates, PM Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) told the press after a coalition meeting January 28.

The National Alliance party asked partners to agree upon criteria for a presidential candidate, so that their names don't start cropping up at the very last minute and so that public opinion is likewise accounted for. 

Kariņš meanwhile said that it's now the time for parties to discuss their proposed candidates inside their ranks, and that the parties will start joint discussions after three weeks.

Latvia elects its president - its chief defense official who also has the power to veto bills and nominate PM candidates - in a parliamentary vote. This election will be different for Latvia, as the country recently made the ballot open, meaning people will know how MPs voted. 

The National Alliance earlier said it could put forth Egils Levits, a Judge of the European Court of Justice, as its candidate for president. Levits was a runner-up in the previous election in 2015. 

Levits, 63, was born in Rīga but his family emigrated to Germany when he was young.

He is a well-known legal expert who contributed to the declaration of renewed Latvian independence in 1990. He also drafted the controversial preamble to Latvia's Constitution, adopted in 2014, which inter alia says that Latvia's national identity includes "universal and Christian values". 

Perhaps best characterized as a moderate nationalist, Levits also dug up a somewhat contested term valstsgriba (will to state), likewise inserted in the preamble, to stress the narrative that the existence of Latvia is the result of a concerted exercise of will on the part of ethnic Latvians.

The first term of current president Raimonds Vējonis, elected as the candidate of current opposition party, the Greens and Farmers Union, runs out in summer 2019. 

Other parties, such as Development/For! and KPV LV haven't yet had a discussion over their preferred candidates. 

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