Sunday, November 27, 2022
Home LATEST NEWS Latvian elections test the loyalty of ethnic Russian voters

Latvian elections test the loyalty of ethnic Russian voters

By JARI TANNER Associated Press

HELSINKI (AP) — Neighboring Russia’s attack on Ukraine helped shape Saturday’s general election in Latvia, where divisions among the Baltic country’s sizable Russian ethnic minority are likely to influence the makeup of parliament and elections. war-induced energy concerns will preoccupy the next government. .

Various polls showed that Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’ center-right New Unity party emerged as the top vote getter, with up to 20% support.

Karins, who became head of the Latvian government in January 2019, currently leads a four-party minority coalition that, along with New Unity, includes the centre-right National Alliance, the centrist Development/For! and the conservatives.

A total of 19 parties have more than 1,800 candidates competing in the election, but only around eight parties are expected to pass the 5% threshold required to secure a place in the 100-seat Saeima legislature.

Political cartoons about world leaders

political cartoons

Karins, a 57-year-old Latvian-American citizen born in Wilmington, Delaware, told Latvian media that it would be easier to continue with the same coalition government if New Unity wins. He has excluded any cooperation with pro-Kremlin parties.

Support for parties catering to the Russian ethnic minority, which makes up more than 25% of Latvia’s 1.9 million people, is expected to be mixed; a portion of loyal voters have abandoned them, for various reasons, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The election is likely to be the death knell for the opposition Harmony party, whose popularity has steadily declined.

The Moscow-friendly party traditionally served as an umbrella for most of Latvia’s Russian-speaking voters, including Belarusians and Ukrainians. In the 2018 election, Harmony received nearly 20% of the vote, the most of any party, but was barred from entering government by other parties.

However, Harmony’s immediate and staunch opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused many voters who still support Russian President Vladimir Putin to abandon her. Meanwhile, those who oppose the war have tended to move towards Latvia’s main parties, all of which also took positions against the invasion.

A recent poll by the Latvian public broadcaster LSM showed Harmony in fifth place with 5.1% support.

“I think the Russophone part of the population is very fragmented,” Pauls Raudseps, a columnist for the Latvian news magazine IR, told The Associated Press. “It cannot be said that it is unified in anything. One part is pro-Putin. But what we have seen is that the war in general has changed attitudes. And it has happened quite quickly.”

Long lines outside polling stations were reported in several places across the country on Saturday, including the capital Riga. Many said that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine affected voter attitudes.

“I think people are becoming more active, and as you can see, there is already a queue. So, hopefully, some of the pro-Russians have now switched to the more European parties… We really can’t say the war is a good thing,” computer engineer Ratios Shovels, 38, said at a polling place in the Riga district.

Elena Dadukina, a 43-year-old lawyer, said she was not sure if the good turnout was due “to the war or if people want more responsibility in choosing their candidates for how they will influence our internal politics.” .

Since Russia’s war against Ukraine began in February, Latvian authorities have banned Russians from entering the country on tourist visas and dismantled a major Soviet monument in Riga.

This week, the government announced a state of emergency in certain border areas of Latvia as a precautionary measure following Russia’s partial military mobilization. Like Estonia’s and Lithuania’s Baltic neighbors, Latvia refuses to grant political asylum to Russian military reservists escaping conscription.

Latvia, which joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, also plans to reduce conscription next year after a break of more than 15 years.

AP video journalist Eduard Kolik contributed from Riga, Latvia.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

RELATED ARTICLES

5 things to Take Care of Before Listing Your Property on the Market

So you've decided to sell your home. Congratulations! This is a huge milestone. But before you list your home, there are a...

12 Unbelievable Benefits of CBD Oils

CBD has become tremendously popular internationally as a lifestyle and medicinal product. Let us examine what CBD oils are and why they...

CBD melatonin gummies for sleep: can it help? 

Are you struggling to get adequate sleep? Do you also remain awake for days and weeks? Or are you just starting to...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

5 things to Take Care of Before Listing Your Property on the Market

So you've decided to sell your home. Congratulations! This is a huge milestone. But before you list your home, there are a...

A Detailed Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for centuries, and it is still widely used in China today. For those who are...

12 Unbelievable Benefits of CBD Oils

CBD has become tremendously popular internationally as a lifestyle and medicinal product. Let us examine what CBD oils are and why they...

CBD melatonin gummies for sleep: can it help? 

Are you struggling to get adequate sleep? Do you also remain awake for days and weeks? Or are you just starting to...