Latvian presidential election, 2007


Latvian presidential election, 2007

A presidential election was held in the Latvian Saeima on 31 May 2007. The government canditate Valdis Zatlers defeated Aivars Endziņš.

Nominations

Before the governing coalition had agreed on Zatlers as a candidate, the People's Party had proposed Māris Riekstiņš and LPP/LC had proposed Karina Pētersone. They subsequently withdrew their candidacies. Similarly, the New Era Party had proposed Sandra Kalniete, who withdrew her candidacy after Harmony Centre nominated Endziņš. For Human Rights in United Latvia did not nominate a candidate, it was announced after election that they supported Endziņš.

Public reaction

Although the powers of the President of Latvia are limited and the office is rather symbolic, 6th president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, who held office from 1999 to 2007, managed to gain political authority and high popular approval. By Latvian law one cannot be president for more than eight years. Therefore, the previous president could not be re-elected and the election drew significant public attention.

Notably, the New Era Party announced that its candidate would be Sandra Kalniete, before the Saeima election held in 2006, and used the slogan "Kalniete for president!" in its parliamentary election campaign. As election day drew nearer, a political battle between the two remaining candidates ensued. Zatlers, who is a doctor, was accused of taking money from his patients, which he admitted. This is connected with a set of problems in Latvia's domestic politics: people employed in health care are considered underpaid; patients often give doctors gifts of gratitude, sometimes in the form of money, and some doctors are accused of extortion. Notably, former Health minister Āris Auders had to leave office when one of his patients accused him of fraud. Zatlers was also criticized for lack of experience. Endziņš in turn was criticized for having been a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union before the independence of Latvia was re-established: this caused even more passionate debate when it was discovered that Endziņš had denied the occupation of Latvia in the 1970s.

Endziņš was the most popular candidate among the general public. An opinion poll showed that Endziņš was supported by 54% of Latvians and Zatlers was supported by 29%.

People at the house of Parliament of Latvia shouted - "Envelopes! Envelopes!" and "Thief! Thief!", when Zatlers came out after elections. [ [http://www.vdiena.lv/lat/politics/printed/aivars_ozolinjsh_cita_pasaule Largest Latvian newspaper Diena: State president will be tax evader] on June 1, 2007.]

Process and Results

Endziņš' supporters hoped that the public support for his candidacy would sway some of members of the parliament from the ruling coalition to vote for Endziņš. This did not come true. Although one of coalition's MPs, Anna Seile voted for Endziņš and another, Karīna Pētersone, voted against both candidates, this was cancelled out by at least 3 opposition MPs voting for Zatlers, disobeying the decision by their party leaders to support Endziņš. There may be situation that at least 6 coalition MPs voted for Endziņš and more opposition MPs from Harmony Centre voted for Zatlers.
Valdis Zatlers was elected president. [ [http://www.apollo.lv/portal/news/72/articles/101015 Zatleru ievēl par Valsts prezidentu] ]

References


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