BFF-52 Latvian president nominates US-born MEP Karins for PM

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LATVIA-POLITICS-GOVERNMENT

Latvian president nominates US-born MEP Karins for PM

RIGA, Jan 7, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Latvia’s president on Monday named US-born EU
parliament member Krisjanis Karins as his candidate for prime minister, in a
third attempt to solve the country’s political deadlock after two previous
nominees failed to form a government.

The NATO and EU member state has been gripped by political turmoil since
October, when a general election saw seven political parties enter the 100-
seat parliament but produced no clear winner.

“I met with several parties in parliament that stated their intention to
support Mr Karins as the next prime minister,” President Raimonds Vejonis
told reporters.

Lawyers Janis Bordans and Aldis Gobzems — of the New Conservatives and
populist KPV LV party respectively — were the president’s first two nominees
for premier.

After they each failed to muster a majority in the fractured parliament,
Vejonis chose a different approach.

Instead of nominating a new candidate before Christmas, he left party
leaders to meet among themselves and find a mutually acceptable candidate.

A former economy minister and MEP since 2009, the 54-year-old Karins was
born in the United States and holds dual citizenship.

He represents the New Unity centre-right party, which is the smallest of
all the parliamentary groups. It only has eight seats.

But Karins has the backing of several parties in addition to his own: the
New Conservatives, the centre-right National Alliance and the liberal
Development/FOR!

He is also supported by some, but not all, of the lawmakers from the anti-
establishment populist party KPV LV.

Karins will now hold talks among the parties to choose his cabinet
candidates. The confirmation vote in parliament is expected later this month.

The Harmony party topped the October vote with 24 seats, but its pro-
Russian stance put off potential coalition partners.

Harmony was followed by the KPV LV and the New Conservatives, which both
scored 16 seats.

Centre-right coalitions formed by various parties have governed Latvia
since it broke free from the Soviet Union in 1991.

BSS/AFP/RY/20:08 hrs