London tops in voter activity abroad; turnout best since 1995 election

London was the busiest of all polling stations operating outside of Latvia during the Oct. 2 parliamentary election, according to balloting results compiled by the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

Fueled by a sense that this year’s election had special significance, as well as by an increasing flow of recent arrivals from Latvia, voters abroad turned out in numbers not seen since the vote for the 6th Saeima held 15 years ago.

A total of 1,545 votes were cast in person and mail at the Latvian Embassy in London. The polling station in Dublin, Ireland, was the second most active, recording 798 votes, while Toronto, Canada, was third with 767.

In all, a total of 12,778 votes were cast in 64 polling stations abroad, according to provisional data compiled by the Central Election Commission. In the 1995 election, Latvian citizens abroad cast 12,525 ballots. In elections since then, the number of voters abroad steadily declined. The 2006 parliamentary saw a slight increase due to recent emigration, but the tally was still just 7,530.

The greatest voter activity abroad was recorded in 1993 during the first Saeima election after Latvia regained independence—18,413 ballots.

The Latvian Embassy in Great Britain planned on a much greater turnout for the 10th Saeima election, Ambassador Eduards Stiprais, who was also chair of the local election commission, told Latvians Online in an e-mail. The commission had prepared 3,600 ballots.

To be able to vote, one must be a Latvian citizen and at least 18 years old. While it is difficult to say for sure how many were first-time voters, Stiprais noted that many of those who came to the London polling station were young.

Results for the 64 polling station abroad show that the centrist Vienotība (Unity) coalition received 58.4 percent of the votes, follow by center-left Saskaņas Centrs (Harmony Centre) with 13 percent and the nationalist coalition of Visu Latvijai! and Tēvzemei un brīvibai (VL/TB) with 12.35 percent.

Regionally, however, the results differed significantly. In the United States, for example, Vienotība got 78.55 percent of the vote, compared to VL/TB with 13.28 percent and Saskaņas Centrs with just 1.43 percent. In Russia, Vienotība drew just 16.89 percent of the vote, compared to 51.84 percent for Saskaņas Centrs.

More than a quarter of the polling stations in operation this year outside of Latvia were in North America. Fifteen stations in the United States tallied 2,522 votes. The most active polling station was the Latvian Embassy in Washington, D.C., which counted 494 ballots, but that included those sent in by mail. New York, with 334 ballots, was second, followed by Chicago with 295.

The three polling stations in Canada—including Montréal, Ottawa and Toronto—counted 982 ballots.

In Europe, the United Kingdom led the way. Including London and at polling stations in Bradford and the Straumēni rest home in Catthorpe, voters in Great Britain cast 2,212 ballots.

Sweden, with polling stations in Stockholm and Goteborg, counted 743 ballots.

Brussels had 570 votes, an impressive turnout given that voters from Luxembourg who in the past might have traveled to Belgium this year had their own polling station. The polling station in Luxembourg City tallied 268 votes.

Voters in Russia cast 515 ballots. Moscow recorded the most votes, 305. Polling stations also operated in Kaliningrad, Pskov and St. Petersburg.

In Australia, voters had five polling stations in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. In all, 791 ballots were cast, according to Central Election Commission data. Melbourne led the way with 277 votes.

Voters in Asia and the Near East were most active in Tel Aviv, Israel, where 42 votes were cast. Polling stations also operated in Cairo, Egypt; Peking, China; Tokyo, Japan; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The polling station in Christchurch, New Zealand, did not operate on Election Day because of the recent earthquake there, but still reported a total of 12 ballots cast by mail.

Two polling stations were set up in South America. The station in São Paulo, Brazil, tallied 20 votes, while the one in Santiago, Chile, had just 3 ballots.

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

One thought on “London tops in voter activity abroad; turnout best since 1995 election

  1. Apsveicu visus tos 791 balsotājus, kuriem bija Latvija vel domās. Bet, no Latvijas uz Austrālīju izbēga meklēt patvērumu ap 18 000 LATVIEŠI – vai, no tiem jau ap 17 000 jau nomiruši? Vai nava saviem bērniem ieaudzinājuši Tēvzemes mīlestību? Nāk drebuļi iedomāties kā mēs latvieši (?) no Austrālījas ar savu bērnu audzināšanu, esam lielu nodevību izdarījuši mūsu mīlai Latvijai. Dievs Svētī Latviju!

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