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Saturday’s Latvian election likely to result in extended coalition negotiations

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Saturday’s Latvian election likely to result in extended coalition negotiations

A woman casts her ballot during Latvia’s parliamentary elections in Riga
A woman casts her ballot during Latvia’s parliamentary elections in Riga
Photo: Reuters/Ints Kalnins

Latvians will vote in a general election today, with sixteen parties vying for seats in the national parliament.

Likely to place first is the Harmony party, a centre-left outfit that has led every poll since June. However, this does not mean it will necessarily enter government—Harmony is only polling around 20% of the vote and placed first in 2014’s election as well, only to be left in opposition. The current ruling coalition of centre and right-leaning parties are led by the centre-right ZZS.

Harmony is expected to mop up votes among Russian-speakers, who make up over a quarter of Latvians. Its associated stances, including supporting Russian as an official second language and having a cooperation agreement with Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, are untenable to the establishment parties resistant to Russian influence in the former Soviet republic.

Expect a fractured vote that will lead to weeks of coalition negotiations. Harmony’s success in those negotiations could prove a key sign of how Riga will behave towards Moscow. A government that includes them will likely take a conciliatory turn, while if excluded the coalition would keep a hard line.

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