Second candidate emerges to challenge Zatlers for president’s job

Another candidate for president of Latvia has emerged, giving incumbent Valdis Zatlers even more of a challenge in his bid for re-election.

Five members of the Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība, or ZZS) announced May 23 that they will nominate party member and former Unibank head Andris Bērziņš to become the next president. In Latvia, the president is selected by a vote of the 100-member parliament.

Bērziņš was elected to the Saeima in 2010.

Zatlers, who became president in 2007, has already declared his candidacy, but some political observers have suggested he might not have enough support in the Saeima to get the 51 votes needed to be elected on a first ballot.

Zatlers has the support of the Unity coalition (Vienotība), which together with ZZS control the government. However, the fact that some in ZZS now back Bērziņš for Latvia’s next head of state could spell trouble for Zatlers.

The World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība) and the American Latvian Association (Amerikas latviešu apvienība) have both endorsed Zatlers.

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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