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Latvia PM Karins' party emerges on top in general election

  • 2 Oct 2022

Karins, a 57-year-old dual US and Latvian citizen, said he will be working to craft a coalition of like-minded parties.

Karins has benefited from his Moscow policy, which included restricting the entry of Russian citizens traveling from Russia and Belarus ( Reuters )

Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’ ruling center-right party won the most votes in Latvia's general election.

With more than 97 percent of the votes counted, initial results showed on Sunday that Karins’ New Unity party had taken 18.9 percent of votes, while the opposition Greens and Farmers Union was second with 12.8 percent and the new centrist electoral alliance United List - made up of several regional parties - was third with 11percent.

Only eight parties or electoral alliances passed the 5 percent barrier and secured representation at the 100-seat Saeima legislature. 

None of the parties catering to Latvia's ethnic Russian minority, which makes up more than 25 percent of the country's 1.9 million population, managed to secure a seat at Parliament.

READ MORE: Centrist set to win as Latvia holds parliamentary elections

The election on Saturday was a blow particularly for Harmony, a Moscow-friendly party that traditionally served as an umbrella for most of Latvia’s Russian-speaking voters, including Belarusians and Ukrainians.

Harmony received a mere 4.8 percent of votes in comparison to the 2018 election, when it garnered almost 20 percent of the vote, the most of any single party, but was excluded by other parties from entering the government.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 had a substantial effect on voter attitudes, observers say, and resulted in a deep division between Russian-speakers opposing and those supporting the war. 

Latvia's economic situation, including soaring energy prices, was the main election issue.

Initial voter turnout was 59 percent, the Central Election Committee said. It is an increase of around five percentage points from the 2018 election.

Latvia joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.

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