Development/For! pledge support for Levits as president

The liberal-leaning Development/For! party has pledged support for the presidential candidacy of Egils Levits, a judge at the Court of Justice of the European Union, the party said April 2.

The party thus joins the National Alliance and the New Conservative Party in supporting Levits as president. Between them, the three coalition parties have 42 votes of the 51 required to elect a new president.

Coalition parties have agreed to decide on a joint presidential candidate by April 15. KPV LV promise to reach a decision soon while New Unity had earlier confirmed they will not put forth a candidate of their own to preserve coalition stability.

Development/For! co-chair Daniels Pavļuts praised Levits as an experienced statesman who has served Latvia for 34 years now. "We highly esteem his input both in the Independence Declaration adopted by the Higher Council 29 years ago, as well as in other high-level documents in Latvia."

"We think he can be an excellent president. We know that Levits is more of a national conservative, and as a socially liberal alliance we can see very well there'll be questions in which our opinions will differ. Then again, there are a number of fundamental values that are important to us and where our and Mr Levits' opinions are the same. We'll jointly tackle matters related to inequality, human rights, promoting civic engagement, as well as media independence and other matters," Pavļuts said.

The last working day of current President Raimonds Vējonis is July 7 and the election is to take place in June. Precisely who will be sitting in Rīga Castle on July 8 remains to be seen, but if you are thinking of being a candidate and would like to try it out for size, you can take a virtual tour.

You can read more about the presidential election process, the history of the Latvian presidency and about previous presidents at the official presidential website (though note the information about the change from a secret to an open Saeima vote has yet to be updated).

Levits, 63, was born in Rīga but his family emigrated to Germany when he was young.

He is a well-known legal expert who contributed to the declaration of renewed Latvian independence in 1990. He also drafted the controversial preamble to Latvia's Constitution, adopted in 2014, which inter alia says that Latvia's national identity includes "universal and Christian values". 

Perhaps best characterized as a moderate nationalist, Levits also dug up a somewhat contested term valstsgriba (will to state), likewise inserted in the preamble, to stress the narrative that the existence of Latvia is the result of a concerted exercise of will on the part of ethnic Latvians.

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