The center-right New Unity party of Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins won Saturday’s election, according to provisional results, with its 19 percent of the vote putting him in a position to head another coalition government.
The results — with 96 percent of districts counted — mean Latvia should remain a leading voice alongside its Baltic neighbors Lithuania and Estonia in pushing the EU for a decisive stance against Russia.
Karins’ party again had the most support following the election. Members of the current coalition were on track to receive 42 seats in the 100-seat parliament, so Karins needs to draft additional allies to stay on as a prime minister.
As many as nine parties could win sufficient votes to secure seats in parliament.
After a campaign dominated by security concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Karins said that he would be working to craft a coalition of like-minded parties.
“I am convinced that we will be able find such a solution,” he said early yesterday. “First and foremost on everyone’s minds is how we all get through the winter, not only in Latvia but throughout the EU, and that we all remain united behind Ukraine, and do not waiver in the face of difficulties for us.”
The first Latvian head of government to serve through a full four-year term, Karins, a 57-year-old dual US and Latvian citizen, has benefited from his Moscow policy, which included restricting the entry of Russian citizens traveling from Russia and Belarus.
“I see no chance that any government in Latvia will stop supporting Ukraine — this is not a view of a small group of politicians, this is the view of our society,” Karins said.
However, his victory could widen a rift between the country’s Latvian majority and its Russian-speaking minority over their place in society.
The election results show falling support for parties popular with Latvia’s Russian-speaking minority, which make up about one-quarter of the country’s population of 1.9 million.
The left-leaning Harmony party saw its support drop to 5 percent after securing the largest share of the vote in the 2018 election, with observers pointing to ethnic Latvian voters turning away and disappointment among Russian speakers over the party leadership’s criticism of the Kremlin over Ukraine.
“The Russian voters are migrating across the national line and they are voting for Latvian [parties]. This is positive,” analyst Filips Rajevskis said.
The opposition Greens and Farmers Union, a coalition of conservative groups closely knit around Aivars Lembergs, the long-term mayor of Ventspils who was put on a US sanctions list for alleged corruption in 2019, was in second place with 13 percent.
North Korea yesterday made a rare mention of dissenting votes in recent elections, although analysts dismissed it as an attempt to portray an image of a normal society rather than signaling any meaningful increase of rights in the authoritarian state. The reclusive country has one of the most highly controlled societies in the world, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un accused of using a system of patronage and repression to retain absolute power. Reporting on the results of Sunday’s election for deputies to regional people’s assemblies, the North’s state media said that 0.09 percent and 0.13 percent voted against the selected candidates
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