Opposition victorious in Europarliament vote

With the victory of opposition parties in Latvia’s first European Parliament election, political observers are saying the coalition government of Prime Minister Indulis Emsis may face its most serious challenge in its three-month existence.

As predicted by two exit polls, the conservative Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK (For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK) received the greatest number of votes in the June 12 election. In all, TB/LNNK got 29.82 percent of the total 574,674 ballots cast, according to official results announced by the Central Elections Commission in Rīga.

That means TB/LNNK will get to fill four of the nine seats Latvia has in the European Parliament.

Coming in second, with 19.68 percent of the vote, was the conservative Jaunais laiks (New Era), earning it two seats.

The leftist Par cilvēka tiesībām vienotā Latvijā (For Human Rights in United Latvia) got 10.71 percent of the vote, the conservative Tautas partija (People’s Party) earned 6.65 percent and the liberal Latvijas ceļš (Latvia’s Way) got 6.52 percent. Each party gets one seat in the Europarliament.

The remaining 11 parties in the election failed to get more than five percent of the vote and thus get no seats in the parliament.

Both TB/LNNK and Jaunais laiks are in the opposition the Saeima, Latvia’s domestic parliament. Three parties make up the coalition government: Zaļo un zemnieku savienība (Greens and Farmers Union), Latvijas Pirmā partija (First Party of Latvia) and Tautas partija.

Some political observers, according to Latvian media reports, view the election results as symbolic and say that the Emsis government’s days may be numbered. But the Green and Farmers Union and others say the results should not be interpreted as a referendum on domestic politics.

Nonetheless, this is just the latest in several recent challenges to the government.

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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