RIGA - Uldis Pilens, a businessman and founder of the United List, has decided to run for the Latvian presidency, the politician told LETA on Tuesday.
Pilens is the first candidate to announce his bid ahead of this year's presidential election, which will take place in May. Incumbent President Egils Levits has yet to reveal whether he will be running for reelection.
Pilens said that he took the decision following a serious reflection, which in his words took quite a long of time, although speculations about his possible run for the presidency have been circulating for some time already.
"In the Christian world, Easter is a time for serious reflection... It is not a matter of wanting or not wanting. Before the Ukraine war, I said that this was not the office I would desire to win. But the situation in the world is extremely changeable, and we are responsible people, including those entering politics. I have 35 years in business behind me, I am an architect by profession, and it took time to deal with such a high level of trust MPs from the United List have placed in me. To figure out if I am prepared to bear such responsibility, to discuss it with the family and sort out things related to my business, because the office of president is not compatible with involvement in business," said Pilens.
If he is elected the next president of Latvia, Pilens will have to give up his business, and he is already working to divest it.
Pilens will be a presidential candidate nominated by the United List with "100 percent support" from his party, he said. For the time being, Pilens would not comment what other political parties might endorse his bid, but said that he is ready to talk to all political parties represented in parliament.
Asked about his chances of winning the necessary majority of votes in the Saeima, Pilens said that running for the presidency is a serious decision.
"If we - United List people, lawmakers, I - did not saw the potential to win the majority of votes, obviously, it would be just a theatrical show," Pilens said.
Asked which parties he expects to support his presidential bid, Pilens said that he is ready to meet with all political groups in the Saeima, realizing that he is "backed by a strong United List mandate".
Since the Saeima is elected by the people, Pilens believes that there are no "good" or "bad" votes in the parliament.
"In my view, all 100 votes are the equal... As far as I am concerned, the votes can just as well be divided between the opposition and the coalition. As a politically neutral person, the president is responsible for the entire process, for the entire political spectrum. He must be able to communicate with the entire political spectrum," said Pilens.
Pilens was born in 1956 in Liepaja. He started studies at the Faculty of Architecture of Riga Technical University and continued at the Weimar School of Architecture and Construction (1976–1980) in the then East Germany. From 1983 to 1988, Pilens was the chief architect of Liepaja.
He later established the UPB architectural and construction group. Pilens has been included in the lists of Latvia's wealthiest people multiple times.
In 2005, Pilens was elected to Liepaja City Council.
In May 2022, Pilens announced the establishment of the Latvian United List election association, and in July, the establishment of the United List of Latvia association.
According to unaudited data, UPB Group closed 2022 with EUR 235 million in turnover, with exports making up 60 percent of this figure.
UPB is one of the largest industrial groups in the Baltics, whose core business is complex building construction, including the design, production and assembly of structures. UPB owns such companies as Aile Grupa, RK Metals, UPB Energy, UPB Nams, Buvmehanizacija, UPB Projekti, Enna, Inzenieru Birojs Buve Un Forma, Grotta and Alto 4.0. UPB also holds a 93.5 percent stake in MB Betons.