Valdis Dombrovskis

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Latvia: Latvian Vote on language issue set Feb. 18 | LatviansOnline

A national referendum on whether Russian should become Latvia’s second official language is set for Feb. 18, the Central Election Commission announced Jan. 3 in Rīga.

The referendum will decide whether proposed legislation to amend the constitution will be adopted. The legislation would change five sections in the constitution, including Paragraph 4, which sets Latvian as the sole official language. At least half of all eligible voters, or nearly 772,000 citizens, would need to vote in favor of the referendum question for it to pass, according to Latvian law.

Full Article: Vote on language issue set Feb. 18.

Latvia: Pro-Russia party gains historic election victory in Latvia, hopes for role in government | The Washington Post

A left-wing, pro-Russia party captured the most votes in Latvia’s parliamentary elections, marking a milestone for the tiny Baltic nation where parties distrustful of Russia have dominated all national elections since independence 20 years ago. With some 95 percent of ballots counted early Sunday, Harmony Center, a party catering to the country’s ethnic Russian minority, had 29.2 percent of the vote.

Since 1991, when Latvia regained its independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union, no such party had either won an election or been included in a coalition government, a streak that Harmony hopes to change after Saturday’s election. But other parties were already maneuvering to shut Harmony out of any coalition government.

Full Article: Pro-Russia party gains historic election victory in Latvia, hopes for role in government - The Washington Post.

Latvia: The oligarchs’ exit: Time up for tycoons | The Economist

Larvia’s elections on September 17 were called as a result of the political upsets in the summer when President Valdis Zatlers tried to confront the grip that he said the country’s three “oligarchs” had on its parliament, the Saeima. Bloomberg has a useful summary of the state of play. It looks as though the parties affiliated with the tycoons may win only 14 of 100 seats, down from 51 five years ago and 30 in 2010.

Aivars Lembergs, mayor of the big port of Ventspils, will probably do best. A poll gives his Greens and Farmers Union 8.5% which will at least get it into parliament. He faces a long-running investigation for bribery, money laundering and abuse of office since 2008 (he vehemently denies all wrongdoing). Ainārs Šlesers, who was at the centre of a controversy that prompted this summer’s crisis, is unlikely to return to parliament. His “For a Better Latvia” is polling less than the 5% threshold. The third “oligarch” Andris Šķēle has dissolved his party. 

Full Article: Latvian elections: the oligarchs' exit: Time up for tycoons | The Economist.

Latvia: Latvia Referendum Dissolves Parliament | Bloomberg

Latvians may elect a new premier to lead the country’s deficit-cutting government after a weekend referendum dissolved parliament and propelled a new party to the top of opinion polls.

Almost 95 percent of voters on July 23 backed former President Valdis Zatlers’s call to dismiss lawmakers as part of an anti-corruption drive. The wave that swept away parliament drove Zatlers’s Reform Party, founded in June, into a first- place tie with the pro-Russian Harmony Center in opinion polls, followed by Premier Valdis Dombrovskis’s Unity party.

Full Article: Latvia Referendum Dissolves Parliament - Bloomberg.