Guide to 2014 Saeima elections: The Parties (Part 2)

Take note – story published 9 years and 8 months ago

LSM's look at the parties vying for seats in the forthcoming Saeima elections continues with the next four parties on the election list.

Ballot no: 7
Name: Nacionālā apvienība (National Alliance)
Slogan: "The safest choice for Latvia"
Symbol: Ye ancient folk symbols
Figurehead: Roberts Zile

First line of program: "The National Alliance is and will be faithful to the objectives of the Latvian Constitution: to guarantee the Latvian nation, its language and cultural existence and development through the centuries."

Rundown: It's lucky they are known as the National Alliance (NA) because the full name of this bloc of smaller parties would be difficult to fit on a poster, let alone a ballot paper: 'Nacionālā apvienība Visu Latvijai! / Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/Latvijas Nacionālās Neatkarības Kustība'.

Luckily their political offering can be summed up more succinctly as Latvian Nationalism of varying degrees of extremity ranging from soft-right to far-right. That is both their strength and their weakness as while prime ministerial candidate Roberts Zile has broad appeal, young firebrands from the more extreme Visu Latvijai! (yes, it even has an exclamation mark) have been known to walk a dangerous line between nationalism and xenophobia.

Part of the current ruling coalition, the inability of some NA ministers to get top-level security clearance has been embarrassing but the crisis in Ukraine has seen other parties suddenly peddling the sort of warnings about Russia that NA has been talking about for years.

They have also been good at distancing themselves from their coalition colleagues even while continuing to support them in a rather Machiavellian manner, ensuring voters don't see them as complete 'insiders'. They could and should do better in these elections than in the last ones.

Interestingly, NA also boasts the best ratio of women to men of any of the major parties with 35% of its candidates female.

Chance of winning seats: Surefire


Ballot no: 8
Name: Latvijas regionu apvieniba (Latvia's Regional Alliance)
Slogan: "For plain speaking"
Symbol: Three delta wing fighters heading north
Figurehead: Martins Bondars

First line of program: "Latvia's Regional Alliance is a centrist political organization with broad representation across Latvia."

Rundown: An intriguing new arrival on the political scene, the Regional Alliance (not to be confused with the Ukrainian Party of the Regions) made a limited impact in municipal elections in May but has since discovered a secret weapon in the shape of actor-cum-shock-jock Artuss Kaimiņš.

His self-produced, self-broadcast show Sunu Buda (Dog House) has given him a cult following thanks to his fearless, confrontational, frequently obscene and hilarious disrespect for any politicians brave enough to appear on it. Despite being named at the bottom of the Regional Alliance's electoral list his army of fans could well catapult him to the top of it and who knows - maybe even into the Saeima itself.

There's little evidence that Kaimiņš actually shares much interest in the party's stated aims which center on development of regional infrastructure but if Kaimiņš does provide the key to the Saeima doors, the main problem party leader Martins Bondars will face is working out how to stop Kaimiņš ripping the place to pieces.

Chance of winning seats: Could spring a surprise


Ballot no: 9
Name: Jaunā konservatīvā partija (New Conservative Party)
Slogan: "Let's say things as they really are!"
Symbol: Oak tree with extensive root system in bubble gum
Figurehead: Jānis Bordāns

First line of program: "The New Conservative Party's (NCP) values ​​are those of the Latvian Republic [declared] on 18 November - a Latvian-speaking nation, democracy and the rule of law, the traditional family, the welfare state, Latvia's geopolitical place in the West and honesty."

Rundown: Another debutante party, this time attempting to occupy the ground between Unity and the National Alliance while at the same time overlapping them to some extent.

Headed by former NA minister Janis Bordans, the program as the party name suggests is generally along mainstream European conservative lines including reform of the judiciary and tax systems, promotion of patriotism among the young and beefing up defense.

However there are a few perhaps unintentionally amusing lines in the program too such as " Being conservative, we believe that it is normal to be normal!"

The question remains: are there really many people out there who think that both the National Alliance is too right wing and Unity is too left wing? 

Chance of winning seats: Not great


Ballot no: 10
Name: Latvijas Krievu savienība (Latvian Russian Union)
Slogan: "Hands off Russian Schools!"
Symbol: Doesn't appear to have one
Figurehead: Tatjana Zdanoka

First line of program: "Our party defends the interests of Latvia's Russian residents."

Rundown: A re-branded form of the former For Human Rights In A United Latvia (PCTVL) as evidenced by the fact the party still has its old website, the LRU is not just openly pro-Russia, it is openly pro-Kremlin with party leader and MEP Tatjana Zdanoka expressing staunch support for Moscow's actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Other prominent members such as Miroslavs Mitrofanovs manage to appear slightly more moderate in debates but it remains hard to square the party's avowed defense of human rights with its cheerleading for Russian neo-imperial power.

Key program promises include making Latvian citizenship easier to obtain for non-citizens, including making language tests easier, paying pensions to Red Army veterans, making Russian an official state language and running Russian-language schools.

While PCTVL failed to win mandates in the last parliamentary elections, the polarisation of views over the Ukraine conflict could see it pick up some support - that's what happened in European elections when Zdanoka unexpectedly retained her seat in Brussels.

Chance of winning seats: Low, but not impossible 

The party round-up will conclude in part 3

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