Political expert: Unity will not disappear just yet

Despite five MPs leaving the Unity party, this political party will not disappear quite yet, says University of Latvia professor Ojārs Skudra.

Appearing on Latvian Radio July 19, he said that the party's leadership should change in the upcoming congress.

He said that Latvia's government is stable as the five MPs are continuing to work at the party's Saeima faction.

"Essentially, Unity calls itself a liberal-conservative party. The five MPs that have left are thinking of setting up a liberal party despite that they were in a liberally conservative party before," said Skudra.

"They just had discussions with Progresīvie, a social-democrat party set up this February. As can be garnered the talks failed," he said.

But Unity will not cease to exist quite just yet, however, if it changes its leadership in the upcoming congress. Skudra expects that some new party doctrines would be adopted at the congress as it would testify to substantial and serious reorganization in Unity.

As reported, Unity MPs Ints Dalderis, Ilze Vinkele, Lolita Cigane, Andrejs Judins and Aleksejs Loskutovs on July 17 terminated their membership in Unity. However they will continue working in the Unity faction at the Saeima.

The party's leader, Andris Piebalgs, a former European Commissioner, is planning to resign as he had not been able to bring about radical changes needed in the party. He has named his deputy Edvards Smiltēns as a potential successor.

Ever since the resignation of Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma in late 2015, Unity has been anything but unified. Its dithering over naming a candidate to succeed Straujuma saw Maris Kucinskis of the Green and Farmers Union become prime minister instead and the party's poll ratings have plummeted. 

Yet just a year before, Unity was riding high after successfully helping to oversee Latvia's six-month presidency of the European Union.

A poll carried out in May puts support for Unity just at 4% -- a rating that spells disaster for the party that holds 23 out of 100 seats in the Latvian parliament. 

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