Strongman Bergmanis becomes Minister of Defense

Saeima approved Raimonds Bergmanis (Greens and Farmers Alliance) as Minister of Defense. He will take over the office from the newly-elected president Raimonds Vējonis. Bergmanis is a former weightlifter and TV presenter.

50 MPs voted for Bergmanis, while 5 were against and 7 abstained from voting.

After Vējonis was elected to be president in June, the post of Minister of Defense became vacant. As Vējonis is from the Greens and Farmers Alliance, this political power had the first say in naming the candidate. The coalition didn't object against Bergmanis' candidacy.

Bergmanis is an MP in the 12th Saeima, but his main disadvantage is said to be lack of political experience. For example, former Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks said that "Bergmanis is an honorable man, but he cannot be the Minister of Defence."

However, commander of National Armed Forces Raimonds Graube said that the Minister of Defense doesn't have to have military experience, but rather the ability to depend on the consultations of professionals and then make the right political decisions. President Vējonis also put his trust into Bergmanis' ability to adapt to the office.

Bergmanis said that he will fight for the defense financing and to develop the National Guard.

Bergmanis, 48, is a ten-times Latvian weightlifting champion and was on Latvia’s Olympic team in three Olympic Games. He has also participated in a number of international strongman competitions.

After retiring from sport, he was successful as a host of several TV shows, and also worked at the Latvian Defense Ministry’s Recruitment and Youth Guard Center. He is the President of the Club of the Latvian Olympic Athletes and the Vice-President of the Latvian Olympic Committee.

The only blemish on his CV came in December 2014 when his car collided with a a tram in central Riga in which he sustained injuries but quickly recovered, no doubt thanks in part to his iron constitution.

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Politics
Politics