Opposition Saskaņa party reveals economist and preacher as spearheads

The opposition Saskaņa (Harmony) political party on June 18 named two individuals as its candidates for the jobs of prime minister and - further down the line - president.

As expected, economist and think-tank chief Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis was confirmed as the party's prime ministerial candidate for parliamentary elections on October 6.

Dombrovskis was education and science minister and economy minister representing the centrist Reform Party in 2013-4.

Harmony, which traditionally relies upon solid support from Latvia's ethnic Russian minority, now identifies itself as a "social democratic" party, though on many issues it is far from the European social democratic mainstream.

In a video statement, Dombrovskis said that his last three years heading the Certus thinktank had given him a conceptual insight into how to develop Latvia in future.

"I want to put this scenario into practice," he said, saying the current political landscape is characterized by stagnation caused by the fact that Saskaņa's participation in government has until now been regarded as "taboo."

That fact was underlined by the party unexpectedly naming baptist preacher Pēteris Sproģis as its future presidential candidate.

Born in 1973, Sproģis has the title of "bishop emeritus" in the Latvian Baptist Union (LBDS) an organization which says it "considers the Bible as its only criterion and its main task – by the power of the Holy Spirit to acknowledge Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as Saviour and Lord for the honor of God the Father and the blessing to other people, in the context of the evangelical traditions cultivated in our churches." 

Sproģis also heads the Baltic Pastoral Institute which says its task is "promoting Christocentric, multiplying and missional development of churches and Christians."

On June 5, Sproģis was interviewed in the business newspaper Dienas Bizness in a front page story about economic issues and the duties of the president of Latvia - a move which attracted a certain amount of head scratching at the time but which now seems explicable.

Saskaņa leader, Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs, confirmed Sproģis as the party's presidential candidate via social media.

Both Dombrovskis and Sproģis will be included on Harmony's election lists LTV reported.

Unofficial sources suggest that another former minister and former member of the centre-right Vienotība (Unity) party has also seen the light and is ready to convert to the Harmony cause. Anrijs Matīss held the very influential Transport Minister portfolio alongside Dombrovskis in government.

Harmony plans to finalize its candidate lists at a board meeting on Thursday, June 21st.

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