Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’ ruling centre-right party has won the most votes in Latvia’s general election.
Centrist parties were runners-up and pro-Moscow parties crashed in a vote that was shaped by neighbouring Russia’s war in Ukraine and divisions among the Baltic country’s sizeable ethnic Russian minority.
With more than 97% of the ballots counted, initial results on Sunday showed that Mr Karins’ New Unity party has won 18.9% of the votes, while the opposition Union of Greens and Farmers was second with 12.8% and the new centrist electoral alliance United List – made up of several regional parties – was third with 11%.
Only eight parties or electoral alliances passed the 5% barrier and secured representation at the 100-seat Saeima legislature, including the centre-right National Alliance and the centrist Development/For!, which are both members of Mr Karins’ current minority coalition government.
None of the parties catering to Latvia’s ethnic Russian minority, which makes up more than 25% of the country’s 1.9 million population, managed to secure a seat in Parliament.
Saturday’s election dealt a particular blow to Harmony, a Moscow-friendly party that traditionally served as an umbrella for most of Latvia’s Russian-speaking voters, including Belarusians and Ukrainians.
Harmony received a mere 4.8% of votes in comparison to the 2018 election, when it garnered almost 20% of the vote, the most of any single party, but was excluded by other parties from entering the government.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 had a substantial effect on voter attitudes, observers say, and resulted in deep divisions between Russian-speakers opposing and those supporting the war. Latvia’s economic situation, including soaring energy prices, was the main election issue.
Initial voter turnout was 59%, the Central Election Committee said – an increase of around five percentage points from the 2018 election.
Latvia joined the European Union and Nato in 2004.