Andris Šķēle (born 16 January 1957 in Ape) is a former Latvian politician and business oligarch. He served two terms as Prime Minister of Latvia from 21 December 1995 to 7 August 1997, and from 16 July 1999 to 5 May 2000.
|13th Prime Minister of Latvia|
21 December 1995 – 6 August 1997
|Preceded by||Māris Gailis|
|Succeeded by||Guntars Krasts|
|Prime Minister of Latvia|
16 July 1999 – 5 May 2000
|Preceded by||Vilis Krištopans|
|Succeeded by||Andris Bērziņš|
|Born||16 January 1957|
Ape, Latvian SSR, Soviet Union
|Political party||People's Party (1998–2011)|
|Alma mater||Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies|
Šķēle graduated from the Latvian Agriculture Academy. He began to work in the Government in 1990 when he became the first secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1993 Šķēle briefly became the acting Minister of Agriculture. In 1994, he was assigned by then Prime Minister to create Latvia's Privatization Agency, while becoming the acting General Director of it.
During this time, he was not in active politics and was able to pursue the leadership role of several key Latvian businesses. He was Chairman of the Supervisory of the Latvian Shipping Company, as well as Supervisory Board member in Unibanka. He was also Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Avelat Group, which was one of the largest manufacturing and retailing groups in Latvia. In the following years, Šķēle took part in a management buyout of the Avelat group and became the single owner of it. However, he was forced to sell it later to avoid a conflict of interest while in active politics.
In 1995, after the parliamentary elections of 6th Saeima, political parties were incapable of creating a coalition government for a while, thus Šķēle was presented as an independent candidate for the position of Prime Minister. The cabinet was approved on 21 September 1995 and worked until 7 August 1997. During Šķēle's leadership, the government focused on a wide-scale privatization program, liberalization of land ownership laws and maintaining a balanced budget. Šķēle was considered among the most popular politicians at the time.
In 1998, before the parliamentary elections of 7th Saeima, Andris Šķēle founded the People's Party. It positioned itself as a conservative party and was able to win the elections, receiving 24 out of 100 seats in the parliament. However other political parties created a grand coalition and left the People's Party in the opposition. It was a year later when the government of Vilis Krištopans fell and Šķēle was able to form a new government. Šķēle once again became Prime Minister from 16 July 1999 to 5 May 2000. During this time, the government began talks of Latvia joining the EU and NATO which was achieved in a mere 4 years time.
In 2002, after the 8th Parliament elections, Šķēle retired from politics and formally left all political party roles. However, it was very clear[according to whom?] that Šķēle had a significant influence on the political and economic situation of the country as the role of the People's Party grew over the years. Latvia's later Prime Ministers Aigars Kalvitis (2004-2007) and Laimdota Straujuma (2014-2016), and Maris Kucinskis (2016–2019) were members of the People's Party founded by Šķēle.
Šķēle's family company has constantly been diversifying its portfolio of investments in Latvia. They have invested in renewable wind energy, as well as wood processing and agriculture. They have also managed and owned Liepāja Autobus Park (LAP) that is the leading regional passenger transportation group in Latvia.
In 2013, Šķēle formed a joint venture with former political rival Ainārs Šlesers. Together they own Multi Capital Holding group that currently manages and owns the Riga Commercial Port group (RTO). RTO is the leading port company in Latvia, having the largest coal and fertilizer terminals in the Baltics. The fertilizer terminal is a joint venture together with Uralchem, one of the world's largest fertilizer companies, while the coal terminal is a joint venture together with one of Russia's leading coal exporters, SDS-Mir Trade.
Šķēle is currently working on the development of Riga Port City, that was developed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.
Andris Šķēle has been married twice. His wife Kristiāna Lībane-Šķēle is a well-known social worker, former parliament member and lawyer. At the same time, she is the honorary consul for Luxembourg in Latvia.
- "Par TP priekšsēdētāju ievēl Andri Šķēli" (in Latvian). nra.lv. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- "81% say Slesers, Skele and Lembergs are oligarchs". Baltic News Network. 7 June 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- "History of the Cabinet of Ministers". The Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- Medenis, Valters (6 April 2000). "Skele sells pantry for $29 million". The Baltic Times. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- "Even EUR 51 million short Lembergs family remains the richest in Latvia". Baltic News Network. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
- "Lembergs family still wealthiest in Latvia". The Baltic Course. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2015.