Guntis Ulmanis

Guntis Ulmanis (born Guntis Rumpītis September 13, 1939) is a Latvian politician and was the fifth President of Latvia from 1993 to 1999.[1]

Guntis Ulmanis
Flickr - Saeima - 10.Saeimas deputāts Guntis Ulmanis.jpg
Guntis Ulmanis
5th President of Latvia
In office
July 7, 1993 – July 7, 1999
Prime MinisterIvars Godmanis
Valdis Birkavs
Māris Gailis
Andris Šķēle
Guntars Krasts
Vilis Krištopāns
Preceded byAnatolijs Gorbunovs (acting)
Succeeded byVaira Vīķe-Freiberga
Personal details
Born (1939-09-13) September 13, 1939 (age 81)
Riga, Latvia
Political partyLatvian Farmers' Union
Spouse(s)Aina Ulmane
Alma materUniversity of Latvia


Early lifeEdit

Guntis Ulmanis was born in Riga on September 13, 1939. His grandfather was the brother of the Latvian leader Kārlis Ulmanis. In 1941, Guntis Ulmanis and his family were exiled to Krasnoyarsk Krai, Siberia, Russian SFSR.[2]

In 1946, he came back to Latvia, but his family was not allowed to settle in Riga and so they stayed at Ēdole in the Kuldīga area of the Latvian SSR.

In 1949, the remainder of the Ulmanis family was supposed to be exiled again, but Guntis Ulmanis was able to avoid that fate, as his mother remarried and his surname was changed to Rumpītis.[3]

They then moved to Jūrmala, where he went to school. After graduating, he entered the economic faculty of the Latvian State University.

Career in LatviaEdit

After completing his studies in the university in 1963, he was drafted into the Soviet army, where he served for two years. In 1965 he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He began working as an economist at a construction site and was later promoted to tram and trolleybus administrator in Riga.

He was then advanced to the position of deputy chairman of the planning committee of the Riga Executive Committee (city government). However, his past family ties with President Ulmanis were discovered and he was sacked in 1971.

He then worked at lower positions in the Riga municipal service system. For some time he worked as a teacher of construction economics at the Riga Polytechnical Institute and of economic planning at the Latvian State University.

As Latvia was heading for the restoration of its independence, Guntis Rumpītis quit the Communist Party in 1989 and returned to using his original surname - Ulmanis. In 1992 he was appointed Council Member of the National Bank of Latvia.

He also joined the Latvian Farmers' Union the same year. In 1993 the Saeima elected him as the 5th President of Latvia (the first since the full restoration of independence in 1991). In the first round, he finished third (after Gunārs Meierovics and Aivars Jerumanis), but won in the runoff as Meierovics quit the race.


As President, Guntis Ulmanis focused on foreign policy, building relations with international and regional organizations, as well as other countries.[4] A major achievement was the conclusion of the Latvian-Russian treaty on the withdrawal of Russian Armed Forces from Latvia.

During his presidency, Latvia joined the Council of Europe and sent its application to the European Union. He announced a moratorium on the death penalty, in accordance with the norms of the European Council.

In 1996, he was re-elected in the first round of elections, defeating Saeima speaker Ilga Kreituse, Imants Liepa and former Communist Party chairman Alfrēds Rubiks, who was in jail at the time.

In 1998 President Ulmanis actively supported amendments to the Citizenship law, that would allow all people born after August 21, 1991, to obtain citizenship and would eliminate so-called "naturalization limits" (in which only a limited number of non-citizenship could receive citizenship within a given year). However, he was forced to send the law project on a referendum, after 36 nationalistic deputies, opposed to the amendment petitioned him to do so. He then actively and successfully campaigned for the adoption of the amendments by the population.

Retirement and subsequent return to politicsEdit

Guntis Ulmanis' term finished in 1999 and he was succeeded by Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. He retired from politics but became a social activist, founding the Guntis Ulmanis Fund, organizing the 2006 IIHF World Championship in Riga and heading the Riga Castle reconstruction council.[5]

2010 marked a return to big politics for Guntis Ulmanis. He became the chairman of the newly created party alliance For a Good Latvia, which was composed of the People's Party and Latvia's First Party/Latvian Way.[6] The alliance won only 8 seats in the October 2010 parliamentary election.

However, Ulmanis became a Saeima deputy. In 2011 he announced he did not want to run for another term as a deputy in the 2011 election. He, therefore, ceased being a deputy in November 2011, after the 11th Saeima was inaugurated.

Personal lifeEdit

Guntis Ulmanis has been married to Aina Ulmanis (maiden name Štelce) since 1962.[7] They have two children: Guntra (b. 1963) and Alvils (b. 1966) and three grandchildren. In his spare time, Ulmanis enjoys reading history books and memoirs, playing tennis, basketball and volleyball. He is known to also spend summers in his home in Smārde Parish.[8]

He has written two autobiographies: No tevis jau neprasa daudz (Not much is required from you yet) (1995) and Mans prezidenta laiks (My time as President) (1999)

He is a member of the international advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.[9]

On September 21, 2015 he became CEO of the hockey club Dinamo Riga after the previous CEO Aigars Kalvītis stepped down to take a CEO position in the company Latvijas Gāze.[10]


National honoursEdit

Foreign honoursEdit


  1. ^ "Guntis Ulmanis: President of Latvia 1993-1999". Chancery of the President of Latvia. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  2. ^ "Speeches made to the Parliamentary Assembly (1949-2018)". Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  3. ^ Chodakiewicz, Marek Jan (2017-09-08). Intermarium: The Land Between the Black and Baltic Seas. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-51195-7.
  4. ^ Gushchin, Victor. "Latvia 1988–2015: a triumph of the radical nationalists" (PDF). Union of Russian Societies in Sweden.
  5. ^ "Riga Castle | Website of the President of Latvia". Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  6. ^ Kolyako, Nina (June 13, 2010). "Guntis Ulmanis becomes chairman of For a Good Latvia alliance". The Baltic Course. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
  7. ^ "Guntis Ulmanis | Latvijas Valsts prezidenta mājaslapa". Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  8. ^ "Engures novads - Ievērojamākās personības". Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  9. ^ "Advisory Council". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  10. ^ "Ex-President Ulmanis appointed new CEO at Dinamo Riga". The Baltic Course. September 22, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  11. ^ ""Es ar savu valsti lepojos. Ja kāds tā nedara, lai vainu pameklē sevī." Saruna ar Gunti Ulmani". LA.LV (in Latvian). Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  12. ^ Estonian Presidency Website (Estonian), Estonian State Decorations, Guntis Ulmanis
  13. ^ Icelandic Presidency Website (Icelandic), Order of the Falcon, Guntis Ulmanis Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, 8th June 1998, Grand Cross
Political offices
Preceded by
Anatolijs Gorbunovs
President of Latvia
1991 – 1999
Succeeded by
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga