Latvian party “Harmony” elects Urbanovičs as new party chair

Take note – story published 4 years ago

Longtime party leader and Saeima Fraction Leader Jānis Urbanovičs was elected as “Harmony” board chair at the party congress on October 26. Urbanovičs was elected to the party board chair position with 218 votes from congress delegates.

There were three candidates for the leading party position: Jānis Urbanovičs, Saeima MP Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, who joined ''Harmony'' before the 13th Saeima elections, as well as former Saeimas MP Andris Morozovs.

In the open vote Dombrovskis gained 49 votes, but Morozovs received votes from 18 congress delegates.

“Harmony” has about 3500 members, has the largest Saeima fraction, and party members include several city mayors. According to sociological survey data “Harmony” is still the most popular party, although the past few months have shown a pronounced downward trend in the ratings. Nils Ušakovs, the most well-known party member, was removed from his position as mayor of Riga this year, but was later elected to the European Parliaqment. Onstage he admitted that this year’s Riga City Council crisis has affected the whole party, but that he doesn’t plan on giving up.

“I’m in top form and ready to give all my energy to “Harmony”. I’m responsible for both successes, as well as failures,” declared the “Harmony” Council Chair Nils Ušakovs.

Several “Harmony” MPs were elected only because they put photos with Ušakovs on their social media, emphasised City Council “Harmony” Fraction Leader Anna Vladova. She also emphasized Ušakovs’ achievements for the good of the party and the nation's capital. Unusually for a congress, Russian was heard frequently onstage. Speakers gave their speeches either wholly, or partially in Russian. 

“Nils, hold on, and everything will be fine,” said Riga City Council “Harmony” Fraction Leader Anna Vladova.

After Vladova’s commendations of Ušakovs part of congress delegates stood up to congratulate her, and part remained seated. This reaction was explained by party members not as criticism of Ušakovs, but of Vladova, who doesn’t admit to any of her own mistakes.

“What has happened to the Riga municipal companies is a tragedy. Is there a war against “Harmony”, or a political campaign? Yes. I know that attendees are tempted to write everything off as a war against “Harmony”, but that would be short-sighted,” emphasized “Harmony” MP Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis.

“I really hope that none of us will regret this. Because of my age my sight isn’t good enough to see who voted. I only saw how the first row was voting and making a mistake,” joked Urbanovičs.

It was decided at the congress that newly elected "Harmony" Board Chair Jānis Urbanovičs will have five deputies.

Urbanovičs chose Rēzekne Mayor Aleksandrs Bartaševičs, Saiema MP Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, Daugavpils City Council Chair Andrejs Elksniņš, former Saeima MP Andris Morozovs and Rīga City Council "Harmony" Fraction Leader Anna Vladova as his deputies. 

This change is explained by the need to prevent possible schisms in the party by offering positions to both larger city council chairs, as well as the more liberal wing of the party. Elksniņš didn’t hide the fact that he is going to found his own organisation, so that the city municipality could better understand the wishes of residents.

“I invite Saeima MPs, especially those from Latgales, to remember where you came from. You might not get a second chance. And today I’m telling you this openly,” said Daugavpils Mayor Andrejs Elksniņš (“Harmony”).

The congress also confirmed a newly-created party institution’s – party council – statutes and elected representatives. Previous party leader and European Parliament MP Nils Ušakovs was elected as the “Harmony” Council Chair. Saima and municipal “Harmony” MPs will also be represented on the council.

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