Next PM could be born in the USA

Latvia’s next prime minister might be an American-born politician, rather than the first Green leader in Eastern Europe.

The conservative political party Jaunais laiks (New Era), which controls 26 of the 100 seats in parliament, now says it wants to offer Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš as the next prime ministerial candidate, according to media reports. Kariņš was born in 1964 in Delaware.

Jaunais laiks apparently is trying to position itself to form the nation’s new government in case the parliament fails to approve a government led by Indulis Emsis, a member of the Zaļo un zemnieku savienība (Union of Greens and Farmers).

If approved by parliament, Emsis would be the first Green prime minister in Eastern Europe, a fact that’s been noted by a number of foreign media. But the chances of Emsis having the support of at least 51 deputies seem slim.

President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga invited Emsis to form the new government after the government of current Prime Minister Einars Repše, who also is leader of Jaunais laiks, resigned Feb. 5.

Emsis is expected to take his proposed government to parliament next week.

Jaunais laiks and another conservative party, Tēvzemei un Brīvibai/LNNK, both have said they won’t support an Emsis-led coalition government. Jaunais laiks, in particular, had insisted that the new government should be formed by Repše, but Vīķe-Freiberga said that he already had had 15 months in which to lead the country. The president continues to back Emsis.

Meanwhile, in an effort to resolve what some observers are calling a government crisis, the conservative Tautas partija (People’s Party) has invited Jaunais laiks to heart-to-heart discussions March 8.

One result could be an agreement between the two parties, which together control 46 seats in parliament, to support Kariņš. However, the Tautas partija has said it would support an Emsis-led government.

Kariņš holds a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, but in Latvia became known for starting the company Lāču ledus, an ice company. He also served from 1999-2000 as president of limited liability company Formula. A member of parliament, Kariņš heads the Jaunais laiks caucus and is a member of the party’s board of directors.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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