Zatlers urges citizens at home and abroad to vote for Latvia’s future

On the eve of the parliamentary election in Latvia, President Valdis Zatlers took to state radio and television to urge citizens in the homeland and abroad to vote.

His Oct. 1 message, aired throughout the country from Rīga, included a special appeal to voters abroad, particularly recent emigrants.

“I am convinced that you are not indifferent about Latvia’s future,” Zatlers said, according to his prepared remarks circulated by the president’s press office . “Even in a foreign place you are our country’s citizens.”

Although they have left the homeland, Zatlers added, those outside Latvia remain patriots in their hearts.

“Here are your roots and dear, treasured people,” the president said. “I know that many of you wish to return. Find the time and vote! That is a step on the road to Latvia’s transformation and your return home!”

The president’s remarks also singled out parents, grandparents, senior citizens and youth. Zatlers noted that this year the first youths born after Latvia regained its independence in 1991 will be able to vote for parliament.

Polls open at 7 a.m. local time at more than 900 locations in Latvia and at 63 spots abroad in 37 countries. A polling station planned in Christchurch, New Zealand, will not operate because of damage from the recent earthquake there, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

Even travelers leaving through Rīga International Airport are being reminded about the opportunity to vote while abroad. Information about polling stations abroad is being made available at the airport, election commission spokeswoman Kristīne Bērziņa said in a press release.

Polls close at 8 p.m. local time.

Voters must be at least 18 years old and be Latvian citizens. In order to vote, a valid Latvian passport must be presented at the polling station.

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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