Valdis Zatlers

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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: 13 parties to vie for 11th Saeima | Latvians Online

A total of 13 political parties or coalitions will be on the ballot Sept. 17 when Latvian voters go to the polls in the homeland and abroad to elect a new parliament, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

No. 1 in the packet of candidate lists voters will receive will be Vienotība (Unity), a center-right party that merges Jaunais laiks (New Era), Pilsoniskā savienība (Civic Union) and Sabiedrība citai politikai (Society for a Different Politics).

Full Article: 13 parties to vie for 11th Saeima.

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.

Latvia: Latvians back dismissal of parliament in vote | Al Jazeera

Latvians have overwhelmingly voted in favour of dissolving parliament in a referendum called to combat the power of oligarch businessmen, early results of the poll showed.

With more than 57 per cent of ballots counted, 94.8 per cent of voters supported the legislature’s dissolution, according to Central Election Commission data released on its website on Saturday.

“Overall voter participation in the referendum was good,” election commission chairman Arnis Cimdars told a news conference. The referendum will lead to a snap election in September.

Full Article: Latvians back dismissal of parliament in vote - Europe - Al Jazeera English.

Latvia: Polling stations open in preparation for referendum on Saeima’s dismissal | Latvians Online

Polling stations in Latvia and abroad began work July 13 in preparation for a referendum that could result in dismissal of the 10th Saeima. The stations—including 78 abroad—will have information about the balloting process available for anyone interested, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

The polling stations are to be open four hours per day from July 13-July 22. Hours are to be set by local election officials. The referendum is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time on July 23.

Full Article: Polling stations open in preparation for referendum on Saeima’s dismissal.

Latvia: Latvian political parties undergo major upheaval | The Baltic Times

Latvian party politics is going through a major upheaval in the lead up to this month’s general referendum on the dissolution of parliament. The political maneuvering of the past few days has resulted in party mergers, liquidations and foundations.

The scramble was launched by the announcement on Saturday by former Latvian President Valdis Zatlers that he would create his own political party to run in the next elections. It will be called the “Reform Party” and will be right-leaning, but specifics of who might join the party are still not clear.

Full Article: Latvian political parties undergo major upheaval.

Latvia: Referendum on Saeima to have record number of polling stations abroad | Latvians Online

A record number of polling stations abroad—78 in all—will operate July 23 for Latvian citizens to vote in a referendum that could result in dissolution of the parliament, or Saeima.

The Central Election Commission in Rīga announced June 21 that it has approved a Ministry of Foreign Affairs proposal to operate polling stations in 41 countries outside Latvia. In last October’s parliamentary vote, during which the legislators who may now lose their jobs were elected, 64 polling stations operated abroad.

The increase in polling stations is due to not enough time being available for voters abroad to apply for mail ballots, election commission Chairman Arnis Cimdars said in a press release. Applications for mail ballots are due July 1.

Full Article: Referendum on Saeima to have record number of polling stations abroad.