Parties offer candidates for next prime minister

The next head of Latvia’s government might be a former finance minister, the current minister for regional development or a longtime member of the Saeima, if one of three political parties gets its way.

President Valdis Zatlers, who will have to nominate the next prime minister, was scheduled to have a series of meetings Feb. 24 with representatives from several political parties. Meanwhile, three parties already have put forward the names of whom they would like to replace Ivars Godmanis, who resigned Feb. 20.

The conservative People’s Party (Tautas partija), which has the largest representation in the Saeima, wants Edgars Zalāns to become prime minister. Zalāns, 41, is a member of the People’s Party board of directors and is the current minister of regional development and local government. The party announced Zalāns as its choice on Feb. 22.

The People’s Party, one of four parties in the current coalition government, joined with the Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība) to pressure Godmanis to step down. Godmanis is a member of Latvia’s Way (Latvijas ceļš), which is partnered with the First Party of Latvia (Latvijas Pirmā partija).

Conservative opposition party New Era (Jaunais laiks) announced Feb. 23 that it wants Valdis Dombrovskis to lead the new government. Dombrovskis, 37, is a former finance minister and currently is a member of the European Parliament. New Era has twice before nominated him to be prime minister, in 2006 and 2007.

Dombrovskis’ candidacy is supported by the Civic Union (Pilsoniskā savienība), a breakaway conservative party led by former foreign minister Sandra Kalniete and former interior and defense minister Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis.

The socialdemocratic Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs), meanwhile, has told the president that the next prime minister needs to be nonpartisan or come from its ranks—namely 49-year-old Jānis Urbanovičs, chair of the party’s parliamentary caucus. Urbanovičs has served in every Saeima since the restoration of Latvian independence. Representatives of Harmony Centre met with the president on Feb. 23, according to a press release from the party.

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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