Edgars Rinkēvičs elected next President of Latvia

On Wednesday, May 31, the Latvian presidential vote in Saeima took place.

Three presidential candidates ran for office – diaspora activist Elīna Pinto, entrepreneur Uldis Pīlēns, and diplomat, current foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs. After three rounds of voting, Edgars Rinkēvičs was elected the next President of Latvia.

For the next president to be elected, they needed to collect at least 51 votes of the 100 MPs, but none were promised that amount before the election.

 The first round of voting yielded no results. In the first round:

  • 25 MPs voted for Uldis Pīlēns, 62 voted against him;
  • 42 MPs voted for Edgars Rinkēvičs, 45 voted against;
  • 10 MPs voted for Elīna Pinto, 77 voted against.

In the first round, Pīlēns was supported by the United List, Latvia First, and Glorija Grevcova, as promised. Rinkēvičs got the support of New Unity and Union of Greens and Farmers. Elīna Pinto got the votes of Progressives.

A detailed scan of the ballots of the first round is available at the link provided.

Since nobody got the necessary 51 votes, a second round was held. In the second round, which produced the same result:

  • 25 MPs voted for Uldis Pīlēns, 62 voted against him;
  • 42 MPs voted for Edgars Rinkēvičs, 45 voted against;
  • 10 MPs voted for Elīna Pinto, 77 voted against.

If the president is not elected in the second round, the candidate with the least votes withdraws, and in this case Elīna Pinto stood down. 

In the third round, 25 MPs still voted for Pīlēns but Edgars Rinkēvičs was elected President of Latvia with 52 votes, thanks to the Progressives swinging their votes behind him.


Rinkēvičs said immediately after being elected:

"I would like to say thanks to those who supported me and those who did not. I think that this process, the discussions with my rivals, showed Latvian democracy at a very high level. I will do everything so that our country blossoms and so that our society is unified, and I am ready to cooperate with the Saeima and the government."


Speaking in a press conference shortly after the results of the vote were announced, Rinkēvičs told LSM Latvia would continue on its western-oriented path.

"Support for Ukraine, a very strong policy when it comes to the Russian aggression" and continued active participation in "NATO and the EU as the cornerstones of our foreign policy" would mean "no surprises, no changes," he said.


Who is Edgars Rinkēvičs?

Edgars Rinkēvičs was born September 21, 1973 in Jūrmala, Latvia.


  • 1999–2000 U.S. National Defense University, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Master’s Degree (MS) in National Resource Strategy
  • 1995–1997 University of Latvia, Master’s degree in Political Science
  • 1994–1995 Groningen University (Netherlands), Political Sciences and International Relations Studies (certificate)
  • 1991–1995 University of Latvia, Faculty of History and Philosophy, Bachelor’s degree


Professional experience

  • Since 25 October 2011 Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia
  • 10/2008–07/2011 Chancery of the President of Latvia (Valdis Zatlers), Head of the Chancery
  • 08/1997–10/2008 Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia, State Secretary
  • 2005–01/2007 Office for organising the NATO Summit of Heads of State and Government, Chief of Staff
  • 2002–2003 Deputy Head of the Latvian delegation for accession negotiations with NATO
  • 05/1997–08/1997 Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia, Acting State Secretary
  • 09/1996–05/1997 Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia, Under State Secretary for Defense Policy Matters
  • 03/1996–09/1996 Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia, Policy Department, Director
  • 1995–03/1996 Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia, Policy Department, Senior Desk Officer
  • 1993–1994 Latvijas Radio, Journalist, foreign policy and international relations topics

He started his career as a journalist for Latvian Radio on foreign policy and international relations issues, then worked for many years in the Ministry of Defense in various positions, including being the state secretary (a civil service position, not to be confused with U.S. Secretaries of State) and deputy head of the Latvian delegation in negotiations on joining NATO. He haded the organization office of the NATO summit in Rīga.

Since October 25, 2011, he has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia – making him the longest-serving Foreign Minister in Latvia's history.

He started his political career as a member of the 'Zatlers Reform Party', but when that party split up he moved to the Unity (Vienotība) party – now renamed New Unity (Jaunā Vienotība).

He is not married, and in 2014 he announced on Twitter that he was gay. A feared backlash failed to materialize and he carried on in his job as before. Indeed, it has been a notable feature of coverage of Rinkēvičs' ascent to the Presidecy that while foreign media have generally led with the significance of his sexuality, it rarely is even mentioned by Latvian media as it is regarded as irrelevant as far as his competence for high office is concerned.

Sounds from the Saeima

Given the wide international interest in the choosing of Latvia's next President, LSM was in Saeima when it happened and obtained several brief English-language interviews to help give some context to non-Latvian followers of the events.    

Before the decisive vote, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš told LSM he was fully focused on Rinkēvičs securing the presidency but refused to be drawn on whether there would be imminent changes in the composition of his government.

Krišjānis Kariņš on Presidential vote
00:00 / 00:00

With the result only just annouced, New Unity Saeima leader Ainars Latkovskis told LSM about some of the political dealing that had been done over the last two weeks to secure the desired result.

Ainars Latkovskis on Rinkēvičs becoming president
00:00 / 00:00

While voting was under way for the first round, LSM caught up with Elīna Pinto and asked her why she had decided to run.

Elīna Pinto on running for President
00:00 / 00:00

Political scientist Iveta Kažoka gave LSM some very interesting analysis of the political landscape, including the potential fallout as far as the coalition is concerned.

Iveta Kažoka on political trading
00:00 / 00:00
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