Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 105

Latvia’s legislative elections, held September 30 and October 1 (see yesterday’s Monitor), recorded a 72 percent turnout and produced a parliament comprised of 9 parties which cleared the 5 percent barrier. With virtually all votes counted, the Central Electoral Commission announced this tentative make up for the 100-seat parliament:

Right-wing and right-of-center parties won 46 seats (Latvia’s Way of Prime Minister Maris Gailis 17, Fatherland and Freedom 14, National Conservative and Green bloc 8, and Farmers’ Union and Christian Democrat bloc 7 seats).

Left-of-center and leftist parties obtained 19 seats (the reform communist Unity party 7, the mainly Russian and hardline communist-type Socialist party 6, and the National Accord party 6 seats).

The balance of power will be held by the previously little known Democratic Owners’ party (protectionist, deemed left-of-center) and Popular Movement for Latvia (populist, usually deemed rightist, and also known as the Siegerist party after its German-Latvian leader) with 18 and 16 seats, respectively. Both advocate integration with the West but also an active presence in eastern markets, and private enterprise supported by state subventions and protectionism. "Rightist" party leaders await clarification on these parties’ programs and policies and do not rule out an alliance with either of them.

The rightist parties should slightly improve their position when the votes of Latvians abroad are counted. The complete and final returns are due October 13. The rightists are in any event expected to recreate the outgoing governing coalition. Should the parliament repeatedly reject the president’s nominee(s) for Prime Minister, the president is entitled to dissolve it and call a referendum to decide on new elections. (13)

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