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The somewhat complicated politics of Latvia

The Latvians (or Letts as they used to be called) have just had an election, and the 'winning' party had 19.3% of the vote. Skimming a report in Le Monde I was quite cheered at that paper calling them 'conservative', but it isn't that good, alas: "Latvia joined the European Union in 2004 and if the result is confirmed, the government will be able to continue its pro-EU policies and drive to adopt the euro as soon as possible". Which seems a tad at variance with this: "Earlier, voting at a coastal town, Kalvitis pledged to continue the government's market-orientated, low tax policies which have helped the ex-Soviet state become one of the EU's fastest-growing economies. In the first half of 2006 GDP grew 12 percent". Hmm.

Looking at the rest of the results, the People's Party seems destined to be forming a coalition with the Greens, the Farmers Union and Latvia's First Party, and maybe the opposition (why? C) centre-right party New Era. Overall, it is 44.86% for the winning coalition, plus 16.12% for New Era and then 14.1% for Harmony (no, not a hairspray, lefties of sorts. C), 6.8% for Fatherland & Freedom and 5.85% for For Human Rights in a United Latvia. That's 88%, as there's a 5% threshold for representation.

Enough numbers, time for an anecdote: Back in the 30s a British diplomat characterised the Baltic trio as variously stolid, squalid and sordid, but I cannot recall which was which.
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Blogger istanbultory said... 7:59 pm

Complicated stuff, obviously. But I am still mulling over the Austrian parliamentary elections of a week back. A country which is supposed to be an advanced and stable democracy.

The Social Democrats won 35.7 percent of the vote, giving them the largest proportion of parliamentary seats. The center-right, ruling People's Party came in second with 34.2 percent, followed by its coalition, the Freedom Party, with 11.2 percent. The Greens came in fourth with 10.5 percent and the Alliance for the Future of Austria
founded by former Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider had 4.2 percent, just above the 4 percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

This is where it gets complicated- as there are about 250,000 absentee ballots yet to be counted. It is not clear, for example, whether the Alliance for the Future of Austria would be able to stay in parliament once the absentee ballots are considered. If it fails to do so, the seats will be redistributed among the other parties.Given that historically absentee votes changed the results in favour of Green and the Conservative Peoples Party this is not completly unlikely.

It is also entirely possible that the number of People's Party and Socialists and/or the Freedom Party and Greens parliamentary seats change due to absentee votes. Interestingly, a grand coalition between the Social Democrats and Peoples Party is now likely although both parties saw their shares of the vote fall dramatically while the two parties that increased their shares - the Greens and the Freedom Party- are consigned to the opposition benches.
Confusing or what?  



Blogger Praguetory said... 2:42 pm

I'm told by a right-wing Lat that these results were very much in line with the previous elections. It has been a period of stable government and solid growth in Latvia and this result showed that the electorate voted for a no change steady as she goes right-wing coalition.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 3:09 pm

Thanks for that gents. Always useful to have a perspective from people at the sharp end.  



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