Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Latvia's pro-European parties perform strongly in exit poll

Latvia's pro-European parties perform strongly in exit poll

A pro-Russia party is poised to evict Latvia's western-friendly government and take power in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state. It's the country's largest party with 24 seats, but it has been shunned by other Latvian parties over suspicions of being too cozy with Moscow, despite its pro-EU stance.

Until recently, Harmony was a sister party of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, and supports ending ongoing European Union sanctions on Latvia.

A party favored by ethnic Russians has won the most votes in the Latvia's general election, final results showed on Sunday.

Bound in the past by an agreement with the united Russia party of Vladimir Putin, Harmony is popular in the Russian-speaking minority, which represents a quarter of the population of the country.

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"The message 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.

It is followed by the New Conservative Party with 16 seats, KPV LV with 15 seats, the National Alliance with 13 seats, Development/For with 13 seats, the Greens and Farmers Union with 11 seats and New Unity with eight seats.

"Therefore there's the possibility of a Russia-oriented coalition after the election".

Seven parties and alliances will join the parliament, called the Saeima, and coalition talks could be long and tense.

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Casting his ballot in the eastern town of Rezekne, Aigars Karklins said the prospect of Harmony teaming up with populists was realistic.

Latvians, fed up with corruption and weak democracy in the Baltic country of 2 million, punished the ruling three-party coalition, which lost nearly half of its votes, mostly to two newcomers.

"No coalition combination is possible without Harmony that would appear able and stable", party leader and Riga Mayor Nils Ushakovs said. But many observers say they expect KPV LV and the New Conservatives to attempt to form a coalition with the Kremlin-friendly party. It did not enter government exclusively because it failed to find any other party to form a coalition.

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.

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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. Polling stations open at 5: 00 GMT and close at 1700 GMT.

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