Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

In Latvia parliamentary election: preliminary results

In Latvia parliamentary election: preliminary results

According to the Central Election Commission's data from 1,057 out of 1,078 polling stations, the Harmony party, which advocates the interests of Latvia's Russian-speaking citizens, is winning 19.91% of the vote.

With over 95 per cent of votes counted, preliminary results Sunday from Latvia's electoral committee showed the left-wing Harmony party was leading with 20 per cent support.

It enjoys broad support from the Russian minority, which accounts for about 25 percent of the Baltic country's almost 2 million people.

Led by Nils Usakovs, the mayor of the capital Riga, Harmony won the most votes in the past two elections. "We don't have any red lines regarding any other political force", lawyer Aldis Gobzems, KPV LV's candidate for prime minister, said in a recent TV debate. It did not enter government exclusively because it failed to find any other party to form a coalition.

"On the one hand, voters want changes. This is where the populism finds its niche", says the political scientist Filips Rajevskis.

Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, of the Union of Greens and Farmers party, warned: "We are at a crossroads". The forming of a government coalition could take months.

In an upset, liberal party the Development/For got 13.4 percent and the conservative National Alliance got 12.6 percent. Latvia's centrist blocs, Unity and the Union of Greens and Farmers, which have dominated the country's politics since its foundation, received less than a third and less than half of their respective results at the last election.

"Forming a new government will be very hard", Kucinskis said after the election.

Along with fellow Baltic states Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia declared independence in 1918 after the Tsarist Russian empire collapsed. "The borders of Russia have no end", it said in Russian, followed by images of soldiers annexing Crimea, Russian tanks parading in Moscow and a smiling Vladimir Putin.

Turnout was 54.6 percent of the 1.9 eligible voters, election officials said.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation now has more than 1,000 troops deployed in the Baltic country of 2 million and even the potential of a minor shift in allegiance in Latvia will worry both Brussels and Washington.

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.

"KPV LV is a "shadow branch" of Harmony, which is not alone in its power quest any more", said political analyst Marcis Bendiks.

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