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Valsts prezidenta vēlēšanas notiks 31. maijā

Parties prepare to hear Presidential pitches

Take note – story published 1 year and 1 month ago

With the date now known when Latvia will choose its President for the next four years (May 31st, as previously reported)  the seven political parties represented in Saeima have started to be more active in searching for their preferred candidates.

For now there is only speculation about the identities of candidates, as no names have officially been put forward, but one thing is already clear – in order to find a candidate able to command 51 votes among 100 Saeima deputies, politicians will have to copromise, reported LTV on March 18.

State President Egils Levits has not yet revealed whether he will run again for this position. He stated that it is up to the Saeima politicians. The parties do not have much time, as the candidacies for the position of president must be submitted to the Saeima from May 9 to 13.

The National Alliance, which enthusiastically pushed for several years for Levits to become head of state is now in no hurry to promise its support, with its candidate due be decided at a meeting of the party council at the beginning of April.

"We will definitely offer the current president a meeting with the council of the National Alliance, and after the meeting there will be a decision by the council on whether we are ready to nominate Mr. Levits. Of course, then it will also be clear whether Mr. Levits is ready to run. The decision will be made by the council of the National Alliance. It is not a priority issue whether or not it will be a member of the National Alliance," said Raivis Dzintars, chairman of the National Alliance's Saeima faction.

The United List does not deviate from its original intention to promote its own candidate for the high office. The party has not yet revealed whether it will be the founder of the alliance of smaller parties, Uldis Pīlēns, as has been rumored on the sidelines.

"We will put forward our presidential candidate, and at the same time I can say that this candidate will definitely not be Egils Levits," emphasized Edgars Tavars, chairman of the United List Saeima faction.

New Unity will discuss the matter of a presidential candidate in the next few weeks at the joint meeting of the board and faction. The name of the executive vice-chairman of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, has been mentioned among the potential candidates for the position in the halls of the Saeima.

"These are currently just speculations, because it must be understood that it is difficult for European countries to replace commissioners and occupy the same position, because the position corresponds to the experience of each commissioner. Valdis Dombrovskis currently holds, in principle, the highest position in one of the international organizations in the wake of the independence of our Latvian state. If it is worth it, both he himself and the others have to weigh," said Ainars Latkovskis, chairman of the New Unity Saeima faction.

The opposition Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS), is another party set to decide whether it will put a name forward at a congress in early April. Jelgava mayor Andris Rāviņš is one of the names being whispered. One thing is already clear – the party will certainly not support Levits' re-election.

"Most likely, the coalition [of parties allied within ZZS] will not have a single candidate. If we end up in such a situation, it is logical that ZZS will have to decide on a candidate," admits Viktors Valainis, chairman of ZZS.

Another opposition party, the Progressives have taken a different approach by naming five criteria required for them to back any presidential candidate. These include a good reputation, awareness of the rule of law and a commitment to sustainable development.

"If we identify our candidate, then we will primarily support our candidate, but if in any way we have to evaluate Mr. Levits' candidacy, then of course we will invite the President to a meeting with the faction, where we will, of course, wait for the President's answers," said Kaspars Briškens, chairman of the Saeima faction of the Progressives.

Two other opposition parties, Latvija In First Place and For Stability!, are vehemently opposed to a second term for Levits.

Egils Levits, previously a judge at the Court of the European Union became the President of Latvia on May 29, 2019, when 61 members of the Saeima voted for him in the first round of voting. 

In Latvia a president is not elected by popular vote, but by the 100 Saeima deputies, so campaigning involves a lot of jockeying and deal-making, usually behind closed doors, to win the necessary 51 votes to carry the day.

For a full account of how the president is chosen on voting day, check this story from our archives. In addition the official presidential website has plenty of information in English.

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