Saturday, October 02, 2010

PoliticsEurope: Latvia: Center-minority govt voted in as new majority

BBC News Europe

2 October 2010 Last updated at 18:27 ET Share this page | Facebook | Digg | Twitter |Email | Print

Latvia government 'set for win'

Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis: ''Voters have voted for stability and rejected populism''
Latvia's centre-right government will be returned to power for a third term, exit polls and early results suggest.

If the results are confirmed, the coalition led by Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis would have a majority in parliament for the first time.

His government pushed through some of the toughest austerity measures in Europe, backed by the IMF and aimed at readying the country to join the euro.

They include wage cuts averaging 30% at a time when unemployment stands at 20%.

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Mr Dombrovskis' supporters began celebrating a short time after the polls closed on Saturday evening, says the BBC's Damian McGuinness in the capital, Riga.

Deep recession

Early results gave Mr Dombrovskis' coalition a majority for the first time
With results in from more than 75% of polling stations, Mr Dombrovskis' coalition had nearly 61% of the vote, the national electoral commission said.

"Voters have sent a quite clear message that they prefer stability and continuity," Mr Dombrovskis told the BBC.

"There had been several parties calling to scrap (the) international loan programme, for scrapping the economic stabilisation programme, promising all kinds of wonders. But we see that voters were not really buying it."

The left-wing opposition party Harmony Centre, which draws its support from the Russian minority, got nearly 23%, the electoral commission said.

Presenting itself as a social-democratic alternative, Harmony Centre campaigned against the austerity measures.

Mr Dombrovskis has not ruled out forming a coalition with Harmony Centre, which has won seats in parliament for the first time.

But if the exit polls prove accurate, he may not have to, our correspondent says.

Since 2008 Latvia has endured one of the worst recessions in the European Union.

Investors see Mr Dombrovskis as the main guarantor of an austerity deal that included a 7.5bn euros ($10bn) bailout led by the International Monetary Fund and the EU.

Mr Dombrovskis, who is also aiming to adopt the euro as the national currency in 2014, took over as prime minister when the crisis was at its worst in 2009.

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