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BOOK Of SPELLS: Zalans has been dubbed 'Harry Potter' by the media, which he has already managed to alienate (Photo: Leta)
RIGA 's Latvian President Valdis Zatlers continued his search for a newprime minister on Dec. 11 and 12 with a succession of potential candidatesarriving at Riga castle to be interviewed about the vacancy.
First, Zatlers met with People's Partynominee Edgars Zalans, Ivars Godmanis from Latvia'sFirst Party and Latvia's Way (LPP/LC) and Valdis Dombrovskis of New Era, each of whomdelivered a prospectus for their first 100 days in office, if selected.
A day later, Zatlers called in threeleading figures from the world of business to discuss the situation in thecountry with them. Opinions remain divided on whether or not Zatlers is alsoconsidering them as potential candidates for the premiership or whether hewanted to draw on their economic expertise to help him appraise the threeprospectuses presented to him.
The three business figures are Aivis Ronis,head of the Latvian-American Financial Forum, Martins Bondars, president ofLatvijas Krajbanka, and Andris Berzins, president of the Latvian Chamber ofIndustry.
All the three of them said after the talksthat they have not received any proposals, only discussed the situation in thecountry.
Coalition representatives voiced surprise at the president'sunexpected action, saying that a neutral candidate might hinder the formationof a new government.
Meanwhile outgoing Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, deniedthat there is a political crisis in the country and insisted that Zatlersshould chose one of the three party political candidates.
Kalvitis told the press after a meeting with Zatlers thatthe People's Party has named its candidate and will defend its position.
However, People's Party candidate Edgars Zalans has alreadyseriously undermined his bid for power by admitting that he never readsnewspapers in case their "negative" comments upset him.
He then compounded the appearance of being somewhatdivorced from reality by announcing that he would not participate on thetop-rated talk show 'What's Happening in Latvia?' either this week or at anyother time.
In an interview with Private Life magazine, Zalans claimedhe does not watch Domburs' show, said he would never take part in the showhimself and would do everything to prevent others from participating. Zalanswent on to say that Latvia's politicians have "gone nuts".
Commenting on Domburs - the best-known journalist in thecountry - the prime ministerial hopeful said: "The guy has real problems,that's for sure."
In response, Domburs told the BNE news service: "In a freecountry, we are free to express our opinion. It seems to me that this man hasvoiced his position quite clearly. The Latvian public now has a greatopportunity to assess Zalans' knowledge of the situation in Latviawhen he does not read the press," Domburs said.