Pro-Russian Minority Party Wins Most Votes In Latvian Elections

Nearly complete results from Latvia’s early elections show a victory for a party traditionally backed by Latvia’s large ethnic Russian minority.

With some 95 percent of the September 17 ballots counted, results showed the center-left Harmony Center winning some 29.2 percent.

The party of ex-President Valdis Zatlers was in second with 20.5 percent, and the party of Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis is in third with 18 percent.

It was not immediately clear if Harmony Center will be able to find partners to form a new government, and reports say the two other top parties are likely to start coalition talks among themselves.

Harmony Center politician Andrejs Klementjevs said the results show his party cannot be ignored and should have a place in the cabinet.

“It would be disrespectful towards our voters — because each third of Latvian citizens supported and voted for us,” he told Reuters. “To spit in our face and not involve us in the work of the cabinet would be disrespectful to us.”

No party backed by ethnic Russians has ever served in a Latvian government since the Baltic state regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Ethnic Russians make up around one-third of Latvia’s 2.2 million people.

The vote in European Union member Latvia was called after the previous legislature was dissolved in connection with a corruption scandal involving “oligarch” businessmen who are also members of parliament.

Officials said voter turnout in the elections was about 56 percent.

compiled from agency reports

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