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Friday 24.01.2020 | Name days: Krišs, Eglons, Ksenija

New force in Riga: excluded party members and independent deputy form a new faction

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Druvis Kleins

Deputies excluded from New Conservative Party’s (NCP) faction in Riga City Council Druvis Kleins and Imants Keišs, as well as independent deputy Oskars Putniņš have decided to found their own faction, as confirmed by deputies.

This means two new factions will appear in Riga City Council in the next two months. This means the total number of factions in the municipality will be eight. Regulations in Riga municipality state factions are allowed to consist of no fewer than three deputies.

Putniņš was elected from Latvia’s Development Party. However, soon after elections he left the faction and supported the ruling coalition in votes.

However, in last week’s no-confidence vote for the now ex-mayor of Riga Dainis Turlais, Putniņš’s vote was the decisive one to dismiss the mayor. He voted in favour of dismissing the mayor.

The deputy has confirmed his agreement to form a coalition together with Druvis Kleins and Imants Keišs. «We want to reach an agreement with all opposition parties on the next mayoral candidate. We will definitely support their candidate. We want a mayor from the opposition and we want real efforts to fix the problems in Riga, not promises of miracles,» said Putniņš.

At the same time, he said if the opposition decides to not pick a candidate, he may ask ‘how much they were paid’ to allow the established coalition to stay in power.

Deputies plan to submit the request to form a faction this week. Putniņš did not reveal the possible name of the new faction.

Kleins and Keišs were excluded from NCP last week. According to Kleins, he was not excluded from the party – he left on his own. «The party’s management made it look like I was excluded,» claims the deputy.

When asked about his reasons for leaving the party, Kleins said that if the opposition does not want the mayor’s seat and start solving problems, this indirectly means the opposition is fine with the coalition remaining in power. «I cannot accept this position. The moment I asked if they [NCP management] have any illusions about the party receiving a majority of votes in emergency elections, I received no answer. It’s all – emergency elections, emergency elections,» said Kleins.

He said that together with Keišs and Putniņš the three of them are ‘nationally-thinking deputies’ who found common ground in a majority of matters.

Riga City Council has not had a stable coalition and opposition in the past several months. Harmony and Honour to Serve Riga bloc consists of 28 deputies – 17 from Harmony and 11 from Honour to Serve Riga.

The opposition, meanwhile is represented by 25 members of the city council – four from Unity, six from National Alliance, seven from NCP and eight for Latvia’s Development.

The opposition may receive 28 votes with the new faction of the three deputies.

Four deputies excluded from Harmony have formed the Independent Deputies faction. All of them voted in favour of overthrowing Mayor Dainis Turlais. «In spite of electing a new mayor, the city council remains ruled by the old management, even though its members have stepped down from their posts,» the Independent Deputies Faction commented on their decision to dismiss Turlais.

As reported, interviewed experts have stressed the importance of the Independent Deputies Faction in resolving the established situation.

University of Latvia Social Sciences Faculty associated Professor and politologist Ojārs Skudra has said that election of a new chairman of Riga City Council before 20 August will depend on this faction, because all they have to do is support someone from Honour to Serve Riga and the majority will be maintained.

Public relations agency Mediju tilts co-owner and politologist Filips Rajevskis said that the vote of the Independent Deputies Faction in favour of Turlais’ dismissal makes him wonder if politicians have a Plan B.

Rajevskis does not think the Independent Deputies Faction is interested in emergency elections, because they could result in an end for their political careers.

Turlais lost his post 20 June as a result of no-confidence vote.

31 deputies of Riga City Council voted against him – the entire opposition, non-party deputy Oskars Putniņš and the Independent Deputies Faction, which consists of four ex-Harmony politicians Valērijs Petrovs, Rosļikovs, Vitālijs Dubovs and Vadims Baraņņiks.

If a new mayor is not elected in the next two months, the Saeima will have the right to dissolve the city council. The parliament may also decide on this if there is no quorum in three consecutive meetings.

Olegs Burovs is currently the acting mayor of Riga.

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