Conservatives lead in Rīga city election

The conservative party Jaunais laiks appears to be leading a swing to the right in balloting for seats on the Rīga City Council, while voters in Ventspils have overwhelmingly re-elected the controversial Mayor Aivars Lembergs.

Lembergs was one of 15,681 candidates running for office in the March 12 municipal elections across Latvia. Lembergs and the ticket he led, Latvijai un Ventspilij, got just over 72 percent of 11,447 votes cast in the city, according to provisional results reported by the Central Elections Commission.

In Rīga, Jaunais laiks looks to be pushing aside the socialdemocrats and a predominantly Russian party. Exit polling by the LETA news agency and the Rīga Stradiņš University suggests one in five voters picked Jaunais laiks. The leftist parties Par cilvēka tiesībām vienotā Latvijā (PCTVL) and the Latvian Social Democratic Labor Party, which currently control the city government, got 11.8 percent and 11.7 percent, respectively.

But news reports say that Jaunais laiks already has discussed forming a coalition with two other conservative parties, Tautas partija (TP) and Tēvzemei un brīvībai/LNNK (TB/LNNK). TP got 11.6 percent of the vote, according to the exit poll, while TB/LNNK got 10.2 percent.

Across Latvia, turnout was low, averaging 52.85 percent nationwide, according to the Central Elections Commission. Four years ago, almost 62 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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