March 28, 2009
A new political party, which is described as socially liberal and whose supporters include ex-president Guntis Ulmanis, has been formed in Latvia, according to media reports.
Called Jaunlatvija, the party held its founding congress March 28 in the National Theater in Rīga and elected Didzis Šmits its chairman. Its platform includes solving the problem of non-citizens’ integration into Latvian society and addressing the issue of domestic partnerships.
Šmits has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been press secretary for the conservative party Jaunais laiks and was involved in the founding of the relatively new political party Civil Union (Pilsoniskā savienība).
Besides Ulmanis, other supporters of the new party include chemist and science historian Jānis Stradiņš. Ulmanis, a grand nephew of Latvia’s last pre-World War II president Kārlis Ulmanis, served as the nation’s first president after it regained independence. While lending his support to the new party, according to media reports, he has not become a member of Jaunlatvija.
Stradiņš, the news agency LETA reported, told the party congress that it will have to work to reassure older voters. Many of those attending the congress were in their thirties or younger, according to journalists’ observations. In media interviews, party founders have spoken about their desire to get younger generations involved in politics.
Meanwhile, another party, the Young Democrats (Jaunie demokrāti), during its March 28 congress changed its name to Demokrāti.lv.
Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000-2012 he was editor of the website.