Harmony ally says it wants Rīga mayor's seat

Take note – story published 5 years ago

Following the European elections, a change of power may be looming in the Latvian capital as one of the two coalition parties wants its candidate to serve as Rīga mayor instead of Harmony, an allied party, and could go as far as calling a snap election. 

That is according to Andris Ameriks (Honor to Serve Rīga, GKR), who together with suspended Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs (Harmony) just got a seat as MEPs in Brussels under the Harmony ticket, meaning the two will be leaving the council. 

Appearing on LTV May 27, Ameriks, Rīga's former vice-mayor who resigned in the wake of massive graft allegations late last year, said that if Harmony does not support a GKR candidate for mayor this time his party could call for an early election in the Latvian capital.

"Now is the turn of our candidate to show what he can do. If Harmony will not support us and impose [their own candidate], it will be difficult to elect anyone. Extraordinary council elections are a possibility," said Ameriks.

Ameriks' party is on May 28 to choose a candidate for mayor between acting mayor Oļegs Burovs and army man-turned-politician Dainis Turlais, who was Interior Minister for two years in the 90s under PM Guntis Ulmanis and served as an MP for a part of the 2000s. 

Opposition councilor Jānis Ozols (New Conservative Party) told Latvian Radio that this does not seem to amount to a conflict between Rīga's ruling parties. "I don't see there being a big possibility for substantial changes in power," he said.

But another councilor Viesturs Zeps (Latvian Development) said that as the party's leaders are heading away the opposition might have a chance to re-group. "What's most important is what we can do with this exercise. Finally Rīga has a chance to get rid of Harmony. In many ways, Harmony is responsible for the state in which we are seeing Rīga today," he said.

Meanwhile Ušakovs' and Ameriks' spots at the city council may be taken by Vita Jermoloviča (GKR) – who's herself involved in a graft scandal as the head of the Rīga Tourism Board – as well as Ivans Ivanovs, an official who sits on the council of the Rīga International Bus Terminal.

Rīga has to choose a new mayor as long-time mayor Nils Ušakovs just got elected to the European Parliament. But he was suspended from the post of mayor by the Environment Minister earlier this year and then turned to the court over the matter.

The Rīga City Council has 60 seats, of which 32 are occupied by Honor to Serve Rīga and Harmony. The parties ran on a joint ticket in the 2017 municipal election. 

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