The end of the New Party?

  • 2000-08-31
  • Jorgen Johansson

Reporter Jorgen Johansson sat down with Pauls soon after he announced his resignation.

RIGA - Lately there has been a lot of talk in Latvian politics about the New Party. Politicians from most parties have shared their views in the media, and the common thought is that the party doesn't have much time left since the last to jump ship was MP Raimonds Pauls, who bailed last week.

Latvia's Way chairman Andrejs Pantelejevs told BNS that if the New Party's faction falls apart, the present coalition agreement will have to be revised.

Today the New Party's faction has only three of its eight members left. The five who quit are all independent deputies in Parliament. With eight seats in Parliament, the New Party is the smallest of the coalition partners and holds justice and special tasks minister's portfolio in the government. The party was formed shortly before the previous national elections, with Pauls serving as the engine that would pick up votes, and businessman Ainars Slesers as the financier.

Pauls handed in his resignation Aug. 21, becoming yet another politician in Parliament without a political party.

Why are you leaving the New Party?

This is one of the most common questions I've been asked as a chairman. After two years in Parliament with eight members in the party I came to the conclusion that this number is too small to form our own direction. Quite often we've had to cooperate with other parties with different viewpoints.

BNS reported you to have expressed dislike towards several members of the New Party, so who is it that you feel you can't work with?

It doesn't really concern dealing with specific people. Some time ago I was observing some differences, and if they could not be resolved, I would be the first to leave the party. Now it turns out I am not. (Ingrida Udre, Silvija Dreimane and Imants Stirans have already left.)

Were there ever any talks about unifying the New Party with Latvia's Way shortly after the last election, in order to give the New Party's seats in Parliament to Latvia's Way?

There were no such discussions earlier, but the new board of the New Party will have to make that decision. Personally I wouldn't want to join them.

Janis Lagzdins, deputy head of the People's Party parliamentary faction, told BNS that there were talks about joining the two parties right after the election. So were there ever any talks about it?

There might have been some talks about it but it never came before the New Party's board. If the People's Party keeps falling in opinion polls, they might have to look for other partners too.

Don't you think that would have been cheating voters for the New Party?

It is very small drop in a larger ocean. Latvia's Way has been very strong for 10 years and paved the way for Latvian politics. Still, there have been many mistakes made.

Will you stay in politics, or do you wish to go back to composing music?

I intend to stay in Parliament as an independent deputy. Opposition has often talked about whether I should stay in politics or not. Despite the media campaign against me, my voters stayed with me. My heart's desire is music. As an artist one doesn't know what the future will bring. It is the same with politics. It's a pity political life is not like the life of a musician, and one could wear a smile on the face.

How is the New Party involved with Norwegian business interests in Latvia?

There have been no contacts between Norwegian business interests and the New Party. (Ainars) Slesers has been working with Norwegians and maybe there's still a contact.

There have been rumors about most of your funding coming from Norwegians. How would you comment on that?

We were called the Troll Party in the beginning but that name died out. There are no documents that show that we have received any money from the Norwegians. If we had any connection with the Norwegians, we would be a rich party. There's no rational founding for this question. We might as well talk about the Rimi bombings.

Has the break up of the New Party anything to do with the Rimi bombing?

No, of course not.