Exit poll: Harmony Centre takes Rīga, while Civil Union does well

Relatively high turnout June 6 across Latvia and especially in Rīga has apparently given the socialdemocratic Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs) a boost, while the still young reformist party Civil Union (Pilsoniskā savienība) has surprised observers with victory in the European Parliament election.

While the Central Election Commission as of 2 a.m. June 7 was just beginning to report provisional results of the local government elections, an exit poll suggested Nils Ušakovs of Harmony Centre will be the next mayor of Rīga, Latvian media reported.

Ušakovs, who turns 31 on June 8, is a former journalist. An exit poll by the news agency LETA and the media company Dienas mediji suggests his party will receive about 25 percent of the vote for the Rīga City Council, upstaging Ainārs Šlesers and his conservative First Party of Latvia (Latvijas Pirmā partija). However, the lack of a clear majority means the parties will have to form a coalition to run the city government.

In the European Parliament election, the reformist Civil Union has received about 24 percent of the vote, according to the exit poll, followed by almost 17 percent for Harmony Centre. That means former Foreign Minister Sandra Kalniete, one of the founders of Civil Union, most likely has been elected to one of the eight seats Latvia gets in the Europarliament. But it also means that Alfreds Rubiks, a former Communist Party leader who opposed Latvia’s freedom from the Soviet Union, has been elected, too. He led the Harmony Centre ticket.

By 2 a.m. June 7, the Central Election Commission reported that with 800 of 950 polling stations counted, a total of 770,332 people—a turnout of more than 51 percent—voted in the election.

The election commission will continue to report local government election results as they are counted, but will not reveal European Parliament results until 11 p.m. Latvian time June 7.

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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