Prominent Harmony politician preparing to launch new political force

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One of the most high-profile members of the Harmony opposition political party is preparing to found a new political force, Latvian Radio reported October 2. 

Andrejs Elksniņš is the current mayor of Latvia's second-largest city, Daugavpils, and was previously a long-serving Saeima member and one of Harmony's most frequent speakers in parliament.

"It is necessary for there to be a new political force to represent all the joint interests of the people of Daugavpils," said Elksniņš, adding that he would be consulting with the public in the near future about the formation of a society or association that could become a "new political force" next year.

However, it remains unclear whether the new grouping will be a direct rival to Harmony or will attempt to cut a cooperation deal, with Elksniņš suggesting this would depend upon Harmony's future plans and direction and whether national political parties will show a willingness to address regional issues.

Last month, Daugavpils signalled it was leaving the association of Latvian municipalities - a move Elksniņš dubbed "Dexit".

Elksniņš became the head of Daugavpils City Council in January this year for a second time following a power struggle involvng various regional parties. With the departure of former Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs to Brussels, Elksniņš found his position within Harmony become even more crucial, so the suggestion that he is about to break away could do further damage to the fortunes of the party which remains the most popular single party in Latvia thanks to its strongholds in Rīga and eastern Latgale region, but which has never been part of any ruling government coalition.

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