Unity party gets new faction head

On December 21 MP Hosams Abu Meri became the new faction head of the Unity party, reported Latvian Radio. The job means leading the party's cadre of SAeima members and keeping them in line - not always an easy task, as evidenced by the recent decision of 6 MPs to form another party. Another MP, Edvards Smiltens recently left the faction of his own accord while retaining his seat as an independent MP.

Former faction leader Solvita Aboltina was booted out of the party a few weeks ago, as reported by LSM at the time. 

"I will strive to be a faction leader to rally the Unity MPs and MPs from other parties represented in our faction. I aim to really return the name Unity to the party. Maybe some people are irritated by the word, as it's become related to problems, intrigues and dissent within the past two years. But I say that Unity is a great name for a party, uniting people on its own accord," he said.

In 2014 Abu Meri, a doctor of Lebanese birth, earned a ‘soft’ parliamentary seat as one was vacated by fellow Unity party deputies now serving in the Cabinet of Ministers. A gastroenterologist, he is also the head of the Latvian Arabic Culture Center. 

Economics Minister Arvils Ašeradens will still remain as the actual head of the party, but he said the move marks changes inside the party. 

Meanwhile, former faction head Solvita Āboltiņa has stepped down as a parliament member. She plans to return to the Foreign Ministry where she would serve as a diplomat of some sort. 

As recently as two years ago Vienotība was riding high under Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, but during the intervening period internecine warfare has seen support all but collapse.

While Āboltiņa has been one of the country's most controversial politicians, but, until this October when she was shown the way out, other members of the party lacked the will or courage to criticize her.

She is widely held to have undermined the authority of then-prime minister Laimdota Straujuma, a move which led to farcical in-fighting within the party and the collapse of its once-dominant position at the head of government.

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