Seven independent Riga City Council deputies agree to cooperate

Riga City Council’s Independent Deputies Faction and For Riga! bloc have agreed to cooperate in resolving economic matters. The deputies, however, have refrained from endorsing any of the proposed mayoral candidates, stating that they would be ready to join the team of a mayor who has garnered support of at least 24 other council members, reported LETA on August 8.

Acting Riga mayor Oļegs Burovs, who has been nominated for the position of mayor by his Honor to Serve Riga (GKR) party, has the support of the ruling Harmony faction, which means that he might, theoretically, expect to receive 28 votes on the city council. Rival candidate Viesturs Zeps (For Development of Latvia), on the other hand, might receive 25 votes if he manages to secure support from opposition parties.

Oskars Putniņš, leader of For Riga! bloc, told LETA that snap elections in Riga are unlikely since the majority of deputies are opposed to them. “And most importantly, we cannot afford them at the moment, because there are unfinished road and bridge repairs and other pressing tasks in Riga’s streets which cannot be delayed. The process of snap elections would take several months and an even longer period of time would be needed to form a coalition and transfer all the work from the old to the new administration,” said the deputy.

To prevent “endless horse-trading and attempts to manipulate the votes of deputies that do not belong to the large political groups”, as well as to facilitate a functioning and stable majority on the city council, For Riga bloc has held negotiations with the Independent Deputies Faction and reached an agreement with them on closer cooperation in the interest of Riga’s residents.

Putniņš remarked that members of both factions will be ready to join the team of a mayoral candidate that agrees to their program and has the support of at least 24 council members.

LSM.lv also reported that the deputies of the two factions plan to meet with the current mayoral candidates Burovs and Zeps to discuss whether they would be willing to support the deputies' proposals related to infrastructure, support for young entrepreneurs raising the child birth benefit, among other issues.

Both Putniņš and Valērijs Petrovs, the spokesman for the Independent Deputies Faction, stressed that they have lightened the burden of the mayoral candidates; now, instead of having to negotiate with two parties, they have to talk only to one. If neither Burovs nor Zeps are able to meet the demands of the seven deputies, the factions are willing to promote a candidate of their own, who could, possibly, get more votes. Putniņš stressed that, like the Saeima, the Riga City Council is in need of a politician who would be able to unite the existing factions.

Independent Deputies Faction includes four Riga City Council members who were expelled from Harmony, and For Riga bloc is made up of independent deputies Oskars Putniņš, Imants Keišs and Druvis Kleins who have been expelled from the New Conservative Party.

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