RIGA - The political arena received a new member this week, as left leaning members of the Riga City Council formed the New Politics party on Sept. 18. According to its founders, the new formation will strive to reduce social inequality, eliminate ethnic tension and promote economic development.
Leaders of the new party said they hoped to capture a niche in the crowded center of municipal politics. The New Politics party will attempt to pry centrist- or left-leaning voters in the capital and other major cities across the country away from the more established groups during the municipal elections scheduled for the spring of 2005.
In addition to Deputy Mayor Sergejs Dolgopolovs, the new organization will have in its ranks well-known civic leaders such as Igors Graurs, former deputy chairman of the now defunct Latvian Democratic Party, Alfreds Cepanis of the Latvian Democratic Party and Leonids Kurdjumovs, a former member of the National Harmony Party.
Other members come from the center- and left-wing of the political spectrum.
As well as finding a middle ground, New Politics hopes to create a dialogue between Latvians and Russians.
The inaugural meeting brought together almost 800 people, including many politicians who did not join the organization. Boris Cilevics of the National Harmony Party was present, for instance. Subsequently praising the party, Cilevics hoped that all center-leftists could work together within one Social-Democratic framework in the future.
Indeed, New Politics joins a playing field crowded with leftist forces. It will have to jostle with the Latvian Social Democrats, remnants of For Human Rights in a United Latvia and the Socialist Party for city council seats across the country.
"Our country needs stability 's first of all internal stability 's more than ever," Dolgopolovs said, adding that the party's goal was to consolidate Latvia's multiethnic residents into "a whole nation."
Dolgopolovs was expelled from the National Harmony Party for his political ambitions and lost in a leadership battle with current head Janis Jurkans.
When asked about rumors that the new party has received financing from Parex Bank and Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs, Dolgopolovs replied that financial support did not come from simply one source. He said that the party's politics and direction does not belong to outside sources and that New Politics would not be a "pocket party" for anyone.
Many political activists welcomed the appearance of New Politics.
"I am happy that Latvians are beginning to unite with Russians and Belarusians," said Janis Kuzins, leader of the youth branch of the Latvian Social Democratic Party that was recently expelled due to its opposition to the education reform.