Former health minister Čakša switches parties from ZZS to New Unity

Former Health Minister and current Saeima member Anda Čakša has switched sides to become a member of the New Unity (Jaunā Vienotība) political party, she announced August 26.

In an interview with Latvian Television's Morning Panorama news show, Čakša said that she came into politics as a specialist when health care reforms were needed. Having been in politics for a long time, she realized that her values ​​were closer to those declared by the New Unity party than the Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) which she joined at the time.

Čakša denied that the reason for her migration to Unity was that it was a coalition party, whereas ZZS is now in opposition. She also said she had no information about anyone else in ZZS being likely to follow her example.

On August 26, the board of the New Unity party unanimously decided to admit Čakša into party ranks, though Čakša will act as an independent Member of Parliament in close cooperation with the New Unity Group. The Saeima rules of procedure do not allow her to simply join the parliamentary group of New Unity.

Arvils Ašeradens, Chairman of the Unity Party Board said: “I am delighted that Anda Čakša, a knowledgeable and highly respected personality, has joined our party. The Board has received confirmation that she will leave the ZZS Group today and will work in Parliament as an Independent Member in close cooperation with the New Unity Group."

Meanwhile Čakša's former Green Party leader Edgars Tavars delivered a withering put-down on Twitter, noting that "Not everyone is up to the work of being in opposition".

Since it did relatively poorly in the 13th Saeima elections last October, New Unity has had 27 new members join its ranks, the party said.

However New Unity remains the smallest party represented in Saeima, with 8 seats, though it does have Krišjānis Kariņš leading the current coalition government as Prime Minister. Now it will have an effective ninth seat while the ZZS representation in parliament will shrink from 11 to 10 seats.

Čakša, a former hospital manager, joined the Green Party wing of ZZS in November 2017, more than a year after becoming Minister of Health in June 2016, under Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis of ZZS.

Čakša told the LETA newswire that her decision to swap political parties had been the “result of prolonged contemplation”. The politician said she had been reflecting on the values she would like to represent and found Unity to be the closest to her system of values, as the party supports the rule of law, democracy and fundamental freedoms, including those related to health care.

“I have to admit that I am looking for my place in politics at the moment, because I arrived here as a professional of my field where the perspective on things is different,” the politician said.

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