Sandra Kalniete, a former foreign minister and now a member of the Latvian parliament, appears to be heading to the European Parliament as one of the country’s newest representatives, according to provisional voting results announced June 7 by the Central Election Commission in Rīga.
Latvian voters went to the polls June 6 to elect eight members of the Europarliament as well as to decide who will represent them on local government councils. All but one precinct out of 950 had reported results by 11 p.m. Latvian time June 7.
Kalniete’s relatively new party, Civil Union (Pilsoniskā savienība, or PS), has earned 24.32 percent of the ballots cast by 789,539 voters in the European Parliament vote, according to the election commission. That’s enough to give PS two seats in the European Parliament. No. 2 on the PS ticket was incumbent MEP Inese Vaidere.
The socialdemocratic Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs, or SC) also has earned two seats, thanks to the 19.53 percent of voters who cast ballots for the party favored by many among Latvia’s Russian speakers. Topping the ticket for SC was Alfreds Rubiks, a former Communist Party leader who spent six years in prison for crimes against the Latvian state. No. 2 on SC’s European Parliament ticket was Saeima member Boriss Cilevičš.
Four other parties have earned one seat each.
The pro-Moscow party For Human Rights in United Latvia (Par cilvēka tiesībām vienotā Latvijā) earned 9.62 percent of the vote, in all likelihood returning incumbent MEP Tatjana Ždanoka.
The conservative First Party of Latvia (Latvijas Pirmā partija / Latvijas ceļš) got 7.5 percent of the vote. No. 1 on the party’s ticket was former Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis.
The conservative For Fatherland and Freedom (Tēvzemei un brīvībai / LNNK) garnered 7.46 percent of ballots. No. 1 on its ticket was incumbent MEP Roberts Zīle.
And the conservative party New Era (Jaunais laiks) took 6.66 percent of the vote. No. 1 on New Era’s ticket for the European Parliament election was Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, a U.S.-born dual citizen and member of the Saeima who was one of a handful of Latvian candidates with ties to the diaspora.
Final results will not be known for three weeks, according to the election commission. Internal party politics also may yet determine which candidates in fact land the European Parliament positions.
Latvian voters actually elected nine MEPs, although only eight will initially take office. The ninth representative will be one of 18 so-called “phantom” MEPs who may not take office for up to two years but will in the meantime receive full pay and benefits from the European Parliament. The current size of the parliament is limited to 736 representatives, but if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified the body will increase to 754 members. Under a May 6 decision by the European Parliament, the 18 extra MEPs will be allowed observer status until the treaty is ratified.
Based on the Europarliament balloting in Latvia, according to a Twitter post by Civil Union candidate Pēteris Vinķelis, his party gets the “phantom” post, too.
Latvia’s turnout in the European Parliament election, according to Central Election Commission, stood at 53.06 percent—the highest in the Baltics. Across the 27 countries in which Europarliament elections were held from June 4-6, turnout averaged 43.39 percent, according to European Union data. Lithuania recorded just 20.54 percent participation, while Estonia had a turnout of 43.2 percent.
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