Reform Party struggles with its future

  • 2013-01-09
  • From wire reports

FIRST CHOICE: The Reform Party hoped Martins Bondars would lead the party in Riga’s elections.

RIGA - The Reform Party in Latvia wanted to see former Presidential Chancery head Martins Bondars (nonpartisan) as the party’s mayoral candidate in the upcoming Riga City Council elections, according to unofficial information obtained by Latvian State Television’s broadcast ‘Panorama,’ reports LETA.
According to ‘Panorama,’ the party’s unofficial mayoral candidate - Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts - has declined the offer to vie for Riga mayor. Therefore the party thought it could try to persuade Bondars to top its ticket.
The broadcast also reported that it is almost certain that the Reform Party will not join forces with Unity for the Riga City Council elections.

Even though the Reform Party’s board and council have decided against running together with Unity in the Riga City Council elections, the party’s leader Valdis Zatlers does not rule out such a possibility.
Three parties have already announced their candidates for the Riga City Council elections. Harmony Center has nominated Nils Usakovs for another term in office, Unity - Sarmite Elerte, and All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (VL-TB/LNNK) - Baiba Broka.

The Reform Party’s desire to attract such new leaders and well-known individuals as Bondars is only logical, believes political scientist Iveta Kazoka. She says that the Reform Party’s search for new leaders and attempts to strengthen the party’s position in politics is the right approach, and will send a positive signal to Latvian society, if well-known people are willing to join its ranks.

Kazoka explains that she does not perceive Bondars as a newcomer to Latvia’s political arena, “since he has been there a long time;” he commands public respect and has a good reputation. Bondars will also benefit from cooperating with the Reform Party, becoming its key politician.
The political analyst, however, declines to predict how attracting Bondars will affect the Reform Party’s ratings and points out that Bondars differs from the other mayoral candidates and could pull in the votes of those who refuse to vote for Harmony Center, Unity or VL-TB/LNNK candidates.

In an interview on Latvian Radio on Jan. 4, Reform Party Riga branch board member Vjaceslavs Dombrovskis said that the party has done a lot of good work, but its public rating remains low, thus members have come to the conclusion that it must change from a one-person party, to one made up of a strong team.
He added that the Reform Party continues to look for new members - young and capable people. Dombrovskis said that the party has discussed Bondars becoming the party’s Riga mayor candidate in this year’s local government elections, or maybe even the prime minister candidate in the next Saeima elections.

Dombrovskis explained that there has been agreement among party leaders to support Bondars, and that the party hopes that at least the members of the party’s Riga branch will do the same.
He said that the Reform Party wishes for Bondars to become a part of the party’s so-called “team of change.” Dombrovskis also said that the Reform Party wishes for Cabinet ministers nominated by the party, but who are not members, to join.

Asked whether Bondars could become the next leader of the Reform Party, Dombrovskis did not give a clear answer, emphasizing that “time will tell.” He said that members of the party’s new team of leaders will have to prove themselves with their work, and then one of them could replace current party leader Valdis Zatlers sometime in the future.
Nonetheless, despite the Reform Party pinning its hopes on Bondars, on Jan. 7 he announced that he has decided not to work with the party for now, explaining that he advocates rapid, radical change, while RP wants to move forward “step by step.”

The 2013 municipal elections will be held on June 1.