Monday, May 07, 2007

Latvian presidential candidates, update 2

With so many candidates from the previous shortlist no longer running, who is on the candidate list now? Parties in the parliament have nominated some previously unknown candidates.

Tautas Partija (People's Party) has nominated Maris Riekstins (born 1963) who is currently the Chief of Staff of Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis.

Foreign policy experience? Check. Riekstins was the secretary of the state (the highest civil service position) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 11 years and then he was the Latvian embassador to US for two years.

Undesirably close links to powerful Latvians with a lot of money? Unclear. Latvian-language blogger Maris Zanders says that Riekstins' candidacy was pushed through by Andris Skele, the multimillionaire businessman who founded People's Party but no longer has an official position there. I'm not privy to inner workings of People's Party but let's have a look at Riekstins' resume... He became the secretary of state for MFA in 1993, years before Skele became influential in Latvian politics and he lasted in that position for 11 years, most of which the government was not run by the People's Party. Does not look like a protege of Skele at all... And he joined People's Party just a few months ago.

Political views? Unknown, since he has been a civil servant and a diplomat, rather than a politician.

Overall? Not a well-known figure but I don't see anything that obviously makes him a bad candidate.

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