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Saturday 18.01.2020 | Name days: Antis, Antons
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Coalition partners unofficially say UGF may want Prime Minister’s post

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUMore and more often Latvian politicians link the presidential candidate selection process and election of the next President of Latvia to political parties’ desire to increase their influence in the government.

In unofficial talks politicians admit that all this part of a much larger game: politicians are interested in far more than merely electing their candidate in the prestigious post. The inability of ruling politicians to reach an agreement in regard to selecting a single candidate only serves to put in question their future influence in the government. Partners of the coalition had previously allowed for the possibility that the Union of Greens and Farmers wants the post of Prime Minister more than having its representative become President of Latvia.

Relations have recently become rather tense within the coalition. This is probably because of the National Alliance’s desire to announce its own candidate. This decision has tremendously impacted the chances of Raimonds Vejonis – the candidate UGF and Unity have agreed upon to support. Coalition partners had previously said they wanted to agree on a single candidate. This has obviously failed: UGF has decided to support Vejonis, NA has decided to support Egils Levits and Unity can still choose between the two.

Tension has risen due to other matters as well. This applies to the proposal to raise excise tax on alcoholic drinks. Unity leader Solvita Aboltina notes that representatives of NA promised to withdraw their legislative proposal to prohibit the use of St. George ribbons at public events. This is because this matter was not previously discussed with coalition partners. However, opposite to what was promised, this draft was not withdrawn, said Aboltina. During the Thursday meeting, the Saeima decided not to include the aforementioned matters on the agenda. It is planned that they will be viewed next week.

In addition, NA deputy Imants Paradnieks and Healthcare Minister Guntis Belevics (UGF) submitted proposals on a more rapid rise of excise tax on alcoholic drinks, even though it was originally planned to coordinate this proposal with the industry. This particular matter increased tension during the meeting of coalition partners as well.

Aboltina notes that such behaviour by NA has signs of a breach of the coalition agreement. Co-Chairperson of NA Gaidis Berzins denies this and adds that ‘the coalition agreement is not a dogma’. He also adds that the initiative to raise alcohol excise tax would have positive fiscal influence. He also notes that partners’ reaction to Levits’ nomination was not unambiguous and was even ‘unjustifiably painful’ even though NA was always clear on this matter.

UGF does not view actions of the National Alliance in regard to ST. George ribbons as a breach of the coalition agreement. Deputy Chairperson of UGF Saeima faction Ingmars Lidaka notes that any criticisms in regard to this matter could be taken by NA as response to its position in the context of presidential elections. UGF has not grudges against NA.

In regard to presidential elections, votes of newly-elected opposition parties will likely play a major role. It is important to take into consideration which of the two candidates will continue competing for votes in the last votes – Raimonds Vejonis or Egils Levits. There is still hope that Vejonis could be elected as president. It is possible some of the opposition deputies could vote in his favour.

Politicians believe the most likely scenario is the election of the state president in the second stage of elections using additional votes from the opposition.

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