Newcomers winners in Latvian election, tough coalition talks ahead

Pauline Gross
October 9, 2018

Before the election, some Latvians were concerned that a strong result for Harmony and the populist KPV could lead to their forming a government and bringing Latvia's foreign policy closer to Putin's Russian Federation.

Other parties contesting Saturday's election included the liberal For Development/For! party; the populist KPV party led by Artuss Kaimins, an actor-turned-lawmaker; and the New Conservative Party, which has a strong anti-corruption platform.

It has a sizable ethnic-Russian minority of around 25 percent, a legacy of almost 50 years of Soviet occupation that ended in 1991, when the nation regained its independence.

We will remind, during the national parliamentary elections in the Republic of Lithuania of 6 October, the overwhelming victory of the party "Consent", advocating for the support of the Russian language in Latvia contacts Riga with Moscow.

Bordans said he would like to be the new prime minister.

Latvia's pro-Russian party Harmony, regularly the biggest party but never in government, looks set to top polls again in Saturday's general election, but pro-Europe parties registered strong gains, an exit poll suggested.

Voter turnout was 54.6 percent, the lowest since the country became independent.

More than 1,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops are based in the Baltic country and even the potential of a minor shift in allegiance in Latvia has set alarm bills ringing in Brussels and Washington.

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Some Latvians were optimistic about the results of the vote.

Latvia is a member of both the eurozone and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, having joined the military alliance in 2004.

Latvia, an EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, is now ruled by a center-right coalition of the Unity party, the Union of Greens and Farmers and the National Alliance, but opinion polls have shown it losing ground.

"The messages that the voters have tried to send is that we're going to have some new faces in politics", Janis Ikstens, political scientist at Latvia University, told Reuters.

Casting his ballot in the eastern town of Rezekne, Aigars Karklins said the prospect of Harmony teaming up with populists was realistic. But many observers say they expect KPV LV and the New Conservatives to attempt to form a coalition with the Kremlin-friendly party. But together with an expected 15 seats for KPV LV, the two parties would need at least one other partner to clinch a majority.

But dissatisfaction with Latvian politicians, widely seen as corrupt and inefficient, has seen the government parties lose voters to KPV LV, a populist party that has promised a fresh and more efficient government.

Polling stations close at 1700 GMT with a preliminary official result expected around 0100 GMT Sunday morning.

Other reports by GizPress

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