Latvian election results pose problem for President

Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis will face a tricky decision in the near future when he will have to nominate a potential Prime Minister to attempt to form a new government coalition.

Though the self-styled social democrat Harmony party topped the poll this time around with 20% of the vote, it is unlikely Vējonis will choose Prime Ministerial candidate Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis as his nominee. Harmony, which draws much of its support from Latvia's large Russian minority, has topped the poll in the past but has never been in government as "Latvian" parties have tended to band together to form a large enough bloc to prevent Harmony having any chance of a workable parliamentary majority.

1078 precincts reporting out of 1078

It is even less likely Vējonis will choose Aldis Gobzems of the new and overtly populist KPV LV party, which finished in second place with 14%, as Vējonis said before the vote he would be looking for a nominee willing to carry on with the general direction of the outgoing administration in several key areas rather than introduce the radical changes that were part of KPV LV's election program. 

Behind that pair of parties is a clutch of right-of-center parties with 10% to 13% of the vote and the formerly powerful New Unity party now trailing with just over 6% of the vote.

That makes a four or five party right of center alliance perhaps the most likely bet to replace the current three-party coalition.

Though regarded a a safe pair of hands, it might prove difficult to nominate outgoing Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis again if it is confirmed that his Greens and Farmers Union party saw a significant fall in support and it finished in sixth place.

Former Foreign Minister and Defense Minister Artis Pabriks is likely to be a front runner for the nomination. He is the PM candidate for the new For Development/For! alliance, which finished in fourth place.

Third placed Janis Bordans of the New Conservative Party, a former Justice Minister, is another possibility, though his antipathy for his former party, the National Alliance, may prove a sticking point. Similarly, the National Alliance's candidate, MEP Roberts Zīle is generally regarded as a capable politician but the bad blood between the National Alliance and the New Conservatives might stymie his chances too.

Another possibility - though a very small one - would be the nomination of a non-partisan candidate to try and bring parties together, though sucha  controversial move would only be likely after protracted negotiations had proven fruitless. Where such a unifying force might be found would perhaps be no easier for Vējonis than the other alternatives in front of him.

Vējonis indicated via Twitter October 7 that he would start consultations with political parties in two weeks' time. Usually the parties will have talked among themselves in a more informal manner before that so that he has some idea of the likely alliances and antagonisms of any coalition model.

He also repeated his earlier pledge that the new government would have to "not change the current course of foreign policy and continue to strengthen national security" and be in favor of a balanced budget and continuation of key reforms.

 

 

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