RIGA, Oct 2 (Portal) – Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’ centre-right New Unity party won Saturday’s elections by 19% of the vote, according to preliminary results, putting him in position to lead another coalition government .
The results – with 96% of districts counted – mean that Latvia should remain a leading voice alongside its Baltic neighbors Lithuania and Estonia in urging the European Union to take a firm stance on Russia.
Karins’ party was once again the party with the most support after the election. Members of the current coalition were on track to earn 42 seats in the 100-seat parliament, so Karin will need to call in additional allies to stay on as prime minister.
Up to nine parties were able to win enough votes to secure seats in parliament.
After a campaign dominated by security concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Karins told Portal he would work to form a coalition of like-minded parties.
“I am convinced that we will find such a solution,” he said early on Sunday.
“First of all, everyone thinks about how we all get through the winter, not only in Latvia, but in the whole EU, and that we all stand united behind Ukraine and do not let up in the face of difficulties for us.”
The first Latvian leader to serve a full four-year term, Karins, a 57-year-old US citizen and Latvian national, has benefited from his Moscow policy, which included restricting the entry of Russian nationals arriving from Russia and enter Belarus.
“I don’t see a chance that any government in Latvia will stop supporting Ukraine – this is not the view of a small group of politicians, this is the view of our society,” Karins said.
But his victory could widen the gap between the country’s Latvian majority and the Russian-speaking minority over their place in society.
Declining support for Russia-oriented parties
The election results show falling support for parties popular among Latvia’s Russian-speaking minority, who make up about a quarter of the country’s 1.9 million people.
The left-leaning Harmony party saw its support fall to 5% after garnering the largest share of the vote in the 2018 election, with observers pointing out that ethnic Latvian voters are turning away and Russian-speakers disappointed by the party leadership’s criticisms of the Kremlin about Ukraine were .
“Russian voters migrate across the national border and vote for Latvian (parties). That’s positive,” said Filips Rajevskis, an analyst.
The opposition Greens and the Farmers Union, a coalition of conservative groups centered around Aivars Lembergs, the longtime mayor of Ventspils who was put on a US sanctions list in 2019 for alleged corruption, came second with 13%.
On €100,000 bail since February while appealing a corruption conviction in 2021, the 69-year-old Lembergs said in 2014 that stationing NATO troops in Latvia was tantamount to an occupation.
However, party leader Armands Krauze told Portal early Sunday that his party would support Karin’s tough stance on Russia, saying “we think our current foreign policy is very correct”.
Krauze said Lemberg’s words were disproportionately inflated by opponents.
Reporting by Andrius Sytas and Janis Laizan’s editing by Kirsten Donovan and Frances Kerry
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