Riga exit poll data show ethnic differences in voting

Ethnic differences in voting preference are revealed by exit poll data that briefly sent the web aflutter on the eve of the June 3 municipal election suggesting that Harmony/Honor to Serve Riga had lost the 2017 municipal election, which it in fact won.

According to the exit poll data, 16.6% of ethnic Latvians voted for Harmony and 25% voted for the Regional Alliance. A total 20.2% of them voted for the New Conservative Party; Unity received 14% of the ethnic Latvian vote and National Alliance received 12.5% of the votes. Other parties received 11.7% of their votes.

Meanwhile 90.9% of ethnic Russians supported the ruling party with the others receiving a tiny share of this group.

The exit poll, carried out by LETA and the Riga Stradins University, encompassed 2,216 people who had cast their votes. 1,304 of them were identified as ethnic Latvians and 822 as ethnic Russians. A total 1,594 people told pollsters who they voted for while 360 ethnic Latvians and 260 ethnic Russians refused to do so.

The results suggest that a large part of the ethnic Latvians who did not reveal their voting choice voted for Harmony/Honor to Serve Riga. 

This goes against the common perception that ethnic Russians or Russian speakers are the only supporters of the party that has been running the Riga City Council for the past eight years under mayor Nils Ušakovs and vice-mayor Andris Ameriks.

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