Latvians cast votes in parliamentary election

Latvians cast votes in parliamentary election

Latvian voters are casting ballots for a new Parliament in an election overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis and worries over how to deal with resurgent neighbour Russia.

The centre-right coalition government, which welcomed the build up of Nato forces in the region as protection against Russia, is pitted against the opposition Harmony party and Latvia To The Heart, a left-leaning group - supported mainly by the country’s Russian-speaking minority – which favours balancing Latvia’s Western orientation with stronger links to Moscow.

Recent polls have shown gains for Harmony which won the most votes in the last election in 2011, but were kept out of government when four center-right parties agreed to form a majority coalition.

Early results were expected after polls close at 8pm.

The election campaign in the nation of 2 million people bordering Russia has been dominated by security issues.

“The war in the Ukraine has catapulted security to the top of the agenda,” said Janis Ikstans, professor of political sciences a the University of Latvia. “The war has exposed Harmony party’s weaknesses.”

After regaining independence in 1991 following five decades of Soviet occupation, Latvia and Baltic neighbors Lithuania and Estonia turned West, joining NATO and the European Union in 2004.

Alarmed by Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, the three small countries have been watching Russia’s moves with increasing trepidation and welcomed a NATO promise at a meeting in Wales last month to increase its presence in the Baltics with thousands of NATO troops rotating round the region.

Around 1.5 million people were eligible to vote in the election, but some 300,000 people are barred from voting because they classed as non-citizens. They are Russian-speakers who aren’t Latvian citizens because they cannot – or don’t want to – meet citizenship requirements, including speaking Latvian.

More in this Section

Donald Trump and 3M in medical protective equipment export rowDonald Trump and 3M in medical protective equipment export row

Ancient tooth points to the existence of earless seals three million years agoAncient tooth points to the existence of earless seals three million years ago

I won’t wear a face mask, says Trump, despite new guidelinesI won’t wear a face mask, says Trump, despite new guidelines

Cheltenham Festival organisers defend event after racegoers report symptomsCheltenham Festival organisers defend event after racegoers report symptoms


Lifestyle

With documentary film ‘Fantastic Fungi’ set to take the world by storm, Joe McNamee looks at the fabulous world of mushroomsDocumentary explores the magic of mushrooms

I lead a very busy life — I’m a mature student in college — and I separated from my partner but the separation was my decision. I hate myself when it beckons as it ultimately makes me fatter, it has the reverse effectDear Louise: I had my bulimia under control. But the demon has returned

This year has been particularly difficult and stressful, and I think that’s an even more important reason to make time for your health.Derval O'Rourke: Resistance is far from futile and necessary

Best-selling author Faith Hogan is keeping the faith during the lockdown, thanks to her Moy Valley haven in Ballina, Co Mayo.Shape I'm in: Keeping the Faith during lockdown

More From The Irish Examiner