Split at Rīga City Council as four Harmony deputies expelled

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Honor to Serve Rīga (GKR) and Harmony may lose their majority at the Rīga City Council after four deputees refused to vote for the agreed-upon candidate for vice-mayor late at night on May 30. 

Harmony councilors Vadims Baraņņiks – current vice-mayor who would have lost his seat after the vote – as well as Valērijs Petrovs, Vitālijs Dubovs and Aleksejs Rosļikovs refused to support Sandris Bergmanis (Harmony) for vice-mayor and Oļegs Burovs (GKR) as board member at the Rīga Free Port.

These members have been promptly expelled from the council faction for having "grossly violated party discipline", said Harmony leader and former Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs. They have been expelled from the party as well. 

Newly-elected Rīga mayor Dainis Turlais (GKR) said he agreed that expelling the deputees from the Harmony faction had been the right step as "it's impossible to work when there's such racketeering". 

This effectively means the current coalition has lost its majority, as GKR and Harmony now hold just 28 seats in the 60-seat council.

Former vice-mayor Andris Ameriks (GKR) has confirmed to LTV that this might mean holding extraordinary municipal elections in the Latvian capital. 

"This shows that some councilors think more about their seats and interests, not about banding together and working for Rīgans' well-being," said Ameriks.

Meanwhile opposition parties are reluctant over a possible power grab at the council with the help of renegade Harmony members.

The head of the National Alliance's group at the Rīga City Council Nauris Puntulis told LETA that the party will certainly maintain its stance of non-cooperation with Harmony. ''Their hands are so dirty, that we cannot even work together with persons who are no longer Harmony members,'' he said.

Puntulis said that the National Alliance will also not work together with GKR as ''they have all these years worked together with Harmony and their hands are no cleaner''.

He said that the only way the opposition can takeover power in Rīga is to work together with the four former Harmony City Council members.

Meanwhile, the head of New Unity's group at Saeima Vilnis Ķirsis said that his party is not prepared to work together neither with Harmony, nor Honor to Serve Rīga. He also added that none of these parties have even expressed such a desire.

He said that there is complete chaos within the Rīga City Council coalition at the moment, because ''the older brothers have left, while the younger brothers are fighting amongst one another for their inheritance''. He said that first the part must await the results of the ''fight between these two political groups''.

Kirsis said that New Unity plans to meet with the other opposition parties to coordinate their further action.

Furthermore, the head of the New Conservative Party's group at the Rīga City Council Jānis Ozols also expressed a similar position. ''We are seeing a situation similar to a jar full of spiders fighting with one another. Despite which one comes out on top, we have nothing in common with them,'' he said.

(Updated with opposition's reaction and the fact that the four members have now been expelled from Harmony.)

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