FINAL LAP: Despite Valdis Zatlers’ gathering momentum, behind-the-scenes positioning continues.
RIGA - Saeima’s opposition alliance All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK will support the re-election of President Valdis Zatlers, said the chairman of the national alliance Roberts Zile on May 12 after a meeting with the president, reports news agency LETA. Zile and the head of All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’s Saeima group, Einars Cilinskis, expressed confidence that all of the alliance’s parliament members will support Zatlers.
According to announcements of support made by other political parties, Zatlers could already have enough support in parliament to win a second term.
Unity, which has 33 seats in the 100 member Saeima, has expressed support for Zatlers, as well as opposition For a Good Latvia, which has eight seats. All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK has seven seats.
Several members of coalition partner Union of Greens and Farmers could also support Zatlers in the parliament vote.
Opposition party Harmony Center has yet to express support for a presidential candidate, including Zatlers.
Fifty-one votes are needed for Zatlers to be elected to a second term in office.
Zatlers has already met with the ruling coalition parties - Unity and Union of Greens and Farmers, and last week met with Harmony Center and For a Good Latvia.
The president on March 16 threw his hat into the ring and announced that he is prepared to run for a second term in the election, due this summer. According to the law on presidential elections, candidates must be nominated in writing no sooner than 50 days, and no later than 45 days, before the term of office of the current president expires.
This means that presidential candidates must be put forward between May 19 and May 24, and the Saeima Presidium must call a Saeima meeting to vote on the matter between May 29 to June 8.
The opposition group For a Good Latvia said it will support the re-election of President Zatlers, said the head of the party’s group in Saeima, Edgars Zalans, after a meeting with the president on May 11. Zalans pointed out that all Saeima members from For a Good Latvia will support Zatlers’ re-election, and that there is no basis to believe that anyone from the political union will vote against him. “We have mutual trust with one another,” the politician pointed out.
Former Latvian president and current Saeima member Guntis Ulmanis (For a Good Latvia) admitted that the meeting did not change much regarding For a Good Latvia’s view on Zatlers, because the political union already knew the president’s stance on various issues of importance.
Ulmanis also confirmed that there are no disagreements within For a Good Latvia in regard to support for Zatlers. “We all agreed that we will vote for Zatlers,” the former president said.
Several politicians, however, mention behind the scenes that President Zatlers will not gain the necessary majority of votes, and new presidential elections will be held with Saeima Speaker Solvita Aboltina emerging as the real presidential candidate, reported daily Diena. Even though All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK announced that the party will support Zatlers’ candidacy, several analysts and the largest opposition party Harmony Center believe that Zatlers may not gain the majority of votes and new elections will be held. Union of Greens and Farmers leader Augusts Brigmanis, however, sees no reason to worry, and is sure Zatlers will be re-elected.
Aboltina, though, is still not convinced about Zatlers’ chances of being re-elected and admits that the All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK announcement surprised her, since MP Janis Dombrava previously pointed out that he will not vote for the current president.
The Saeima speaker emphasized that Unity has not discussed with any other party the possibility of new elections, and added that currently she is not a presidential candidate and Unity supports Zatlers’ candidacy. She pointed out that she is aware of the possible consequences if Zatlers is not re-elected. It will be a sign of Unity’s weakness, and society will see that deputies’ actions do not match their words.
Diena predicts that Unity, Union of Greens and Farmers and Harmony Center would have to reach an agreement in order for Aboltina to be elected as president, which would cause political instability in the country. Union of Greens and Farmers would attempt to increase its influence in the government, while Harmony Center would then become a part of it.
According to Diena, All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK decided to support Zatlers’ candidacy in order to avoid political instability and not let Harmony Center increase its influence.
Together with All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK, For a Good Latvia, Union of Greens and Farmers and Unity votes, Zatlers would have 63 votes in parliament.
Zatlers’ term of office will expire on July 7 this year.