Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Pro-Russia party wins most votes in Latvian elections

Russia-Leaning Party Expected to Place First in Latvia Elections		Phil Cole  Getty Images6 Oct 2018 Russia-Leaning Party Expected to Place First in Latvia Elections Phil Cole Getty Images6 Oct 2018
Melinda Barton | 09 October, 2018, 04:19

The party, whose main support comes from Latvia's ethnic Russian minority, won most seats at the last election but was sidelined from power when mainstream parties refused to include it in any deal due to its ties with the Kremlin.

Polls suggest the Greens and Farmers Union, which now holds the posts of both president and prime minister, will win no more than 15 seats in the 100-seat parliament.

The pro-Russia party Harmony remained the biggest with 20 percent, due to its support from Russian-speakers, but will find it hard to get in government as parties that oppose it because of its Moscow ties won enough votes.

The New Conservative Party, established by a group of dissenters who split off from the right-wing National Alliance, came third in Saturday's polls with 13.6 percent of the vote.

Latvia, a nation of 2 million that borders Russia, has a sizable ethnic-Russian minority of around 25 per cent - more if you count other Russian-speakers such as Belarussians and Ukrainians.

But Harmony's pro-Russian stance is still an issue.

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

With a quarter of voters remaining undecided on the eve of the election, according to independent polling firm SKDS, the result is still wide open.

A pro-Russia party has won Saturday's parliamentary election in Latvia.

The party is led by radio host Artuss Kaimiņš, a political outsider who has styled himself in the mold of U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a report by the New York Times.

The current ruling coalition of Union of Greens and Farmers, the National Alliance and Unity together got 29.2 percent, meaning they would have to find at least one other coalition member to form a majority government.

Harmony has said it wants Latvia to stay in the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation but to have closer economic ties with Russian Federation.

"Harmony", which is headed by the mayor of Riga, Nil Ushakov, completed the elections with a score of 19.9%.

"KPV LV can work with all, we have no red line for another political force", said Mr. Gobzems during a political debate on channel TV24.

Harmony, which is regularly the biggest party but fails to join ruling coalitions, will hold 24 seats in the 100-seat Saeima, the Latvian parliament. Preliminary results will be announced Sunday.