ibusinesslines.com October 21, 2018

Latvian Social Democrats Lead in Parliament Poll After Half of Votes Counted

09 October 2018, 02:55 | Erica Roy

Relations with Russia have long been a dominating topic in Latvia's national politics

Relations with Russia have long been a dominating topic in Latvia's national politics

The Harmony party, which draws most of its support from the country's sizeable ethnic Russian minority, won the most votes - 20 per cent - in the general election and is expected to enter talks to form a coalition government with two populist parties.

Unity, now rebranded as New Unity, might not even meet the five-percent threshold required to have any presence in the assembly.

By 7:30 a.m. votes had been counted in 1,057 out of 1,078 polling stations in Latvia.

This prospect is scary for more than one in this baltic country of 1.9 million inhabitants, whose history is marked by hard relations with the large Russian neighbour.

The victory on elections to the Seimas (Parliament) of the Republic of Latvia, the Pro-Russian wing of the party "Consent" does not mean that in the near future Latvia will automatically change its political course.

But other parties refused to join it in a coalition over suspicions of its links with Moscow, despite its pro-EU stance.

Latvia, a member of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, shares a 276-kilometre (167 miles) border with Russian Federation which makes it a frontline state in the increasingly hostile relationship between the West and President Vladimir Putin.

Some Latvians were optimistic about the vote, including Evalds, 75.

Besides them, the New Conservative Party (13.6%), the party "Development/For" (12%), "National Alliance" (11%), "Union of Greens and Farmers", which is headed by the current Prime Minister Maris Kuchinkis, gained 10%.

The center-left Socialist party, commonly known as Harmony, received almost 20 percent of the vote after ballots from 575 polling stations were counted.

According to the latest poll, the Greens and Peasants, at the head of the outgoing government, would not receive Saturday as fifteen seats in a parliament that in cent account.

Its leader, Artuss Kaimins, whose popularity has soared as he railed against corrupt politicians, has sent mixed messages on whether he would rule out a deal with Harmony, set to be the biggest party due to its support base among the Russian-speaking minority.

The Baltic nation has viewed Russian Federation as a security threat. But police said earlier they have found no systematic attempts by foreign nations to influence Saturday's election.

Sunday's result would give the party 23 seats at the Saeima legislature, one less it has now.

Harmony party, the pro-Kremlin center-left, "promises to reduce defense spending to 1% of GDP", notes political analyst Marcis Bendiks.

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