European parliamentary elections: The Parties (Part 2)

With European parliamentary elections taking place on Saturday, June 8, it's time for our overview of the parties hoping to win seats in Brussels.

There will be 16 parties and political associations in the running, listed below in the order in which they will appear on ballot papers, from number 1 to number 16. For each party, we will give a brief overview of what it is, who its leading figures are and what its pitch is for a piece of power at the European level.

To stop this preview running too long, we'll split the parties into two groups in two preview pieces. For reasons of impartiality, we'll steer clear of estimating how each individual party might do at the polls – so we'll just take this opportunity now to say that it's clear some of them have virtually no chance as they represent very narrow interest groups. However, democracy is not only about winning – taking part even with little chance of success is still part of the process.

Obviously, LSM does not endorse any particular party or candidate and with strict rules in place regarding impartiality in public media, we can't really provide much assessment of how credible or incredible claims and promises in election manifestos might be. A little thought from the reader will probably be enough to come to a conclusion on such matters. 

Party names are given initially as written on the official party list. A lot of them feature the word 'Latvia' or its variants, and others have curious typographic traits such as using CAPITAL LETTERS, repeated periods/full stops, or including an exclamation mark (!) in the official name of the party. It's all part of the fun.

You can read more information about the election process itself at the website of the Central Election Commission and this summary which we have already published.

You can read Part 1 of the party overview on our other story.

9. Progresīvie (Progressives)

Quote"Let's stand up for marriage equality throughout the EU."

Program: The roughly social democrat Progressives have published a rather long program that centers on support for Ukraine, tackling climate change and promoting educational opportunities. One of the eye-catching elements is involving Ukraine more widely in EU programs, giving it access to EU markets and assigning it observer seats in the European Parliament. The Progressives call for a transition from full consensus to qualified majority in European council votes and, stricter environmental controls and investing in railways instead of short-haul flights. Educational diplomas obtained in one EU member state should be automatically recognized in other member states, they think. 

Notable candidate: Former Rīga mayor Mārtiņš Staķis occupies the number 2 spot behind former presidential contender Elīna Pinto.

Summary: The Progressives have never held a seat in the European Parliament so far, but with current polls suggesting they are in the top three parties, and few other options for left-of-center voters, this could be the time they score their first MEP. Two thirds of their 18 candidates are women.

Factoid: Before the 2022 Saeima elections, the Progressives published a '4,000 character' manifesto. It seems brevity is no longer called for as their EP program runs to nearly 10,000 characters.


CVK info:


10. Politiskā partija Tautas varas spēks (Political party Power of People's Power)

Quote: "Instead of economic development and jobs, there are only foreign decisions and foreign goods"

Program: This party lists a long line of grievances against the EU, saying Latvia's voice has not been heard even once in the last 20 years. The EU Parliament does not defend our country's production, that is, the development of industry and agriculture. What is the EU fighting for? Only for more important positions in the EP," it says, but just when you think the natural conclusion would be to call for Latvia to leave the EU it instead says "The EU should be requested to evaluate the degree of corruption in our country" and that all EU members should pay for the security of Latvia's eastern border.

Notable candidate: Lead candidate Valentīns Jeremejevs gained some notoriety during the Covid-19 crisis as a prominent conspiracy theorist. Before that, he gained a name for trying to stop the annual Baltic Pride parade from taking place.

Summary: This is another party that has undergone a couple of name changes. Founded in 2007 as 'Spēks vienotībā' ('Strength in unity'), in 2012 it changed to 'Alternative' and found its current name in 2022. The essential pitch seems to be that the EU has done nothing for Latvia and so the EU must now do everything for Latvia. Mass economic migration to other EU states is mentioned as a problem and "signs of the collapse of the EU are already visible". Military threats cannot be eliminated by armaments, the party believes, without suggesting an alternative to defend against Russia – which is never mentioned by name, unlike in most other parties' programs.

Factoid: Saying it represents "conservative values" particularly with regard to marriage, the party's candidate list is split between those who are married (50%), unmarried (22.2%) and divorced (27.8%). 


CVK info:


11. Kustība 'Par!' (Movement 'For!')

Quote: "Europe must be ready to defend itself against the China-Russia-Iran 'axis' regardless of who is president of the United States"

Program: Like many other parties, support for Ukraine and resistance to Russian imperialism are upfront in the program, with the emphasis put on Europe acting in concert and integrating more deeply in defense, healthcare, and education, including the introduction of an EU-wide "health union". More should also be done to counter Russian propaganda and a cultural equivalent of the EU's 'Green Deal' should be launched, the party argues.

Notable candidate: In a very interesting move, the number one candidate is Ivanna Volochiy – actually a dual Belgian-Ukrainian citizen.

Summary: For the liberal-minded Par! – as with several other parties – this is a chance to gauge support after the disappointment of the 2022 Saeima elections which saw them go from being a coalition party to having no seats at all. No longer using a joint ticket with 'Attistībai', it will be interesting to see if there is room on the political spectrum for both Par! and the Progressives, or if they might end up joining forces. 

Factoid: they appear to be quite a brainy bunch as 83.3% of their candidates have a higher education. Exactly the same percentage declined to specify their marital status.


CVK info:


12. Suverēnā vara (Sovereign Power)

Quote"The traditional family must take precedence over the interests of any other group or country"

Program: The overwhelming appeal is to 'traditional' and Christian values and the party notes its affiliation with the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM – Latvia First! is also an affiliate). Sovereign Power says EU countries should withdraw from the Istanbul Convention and that "The waste of funds on various gender equality programs and climate neutrality ideas must be stopped!" In general, it expresses great skepticism about pandemic restrictions, identity politics, and even things like digitization, saying it is "a path to restrictions on human rights". Neither Russia nor Ukraine are mentioned by name, but the party does get specific about establishing August 15 (the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Catholics) as a holiday not only in Latvia but in all member states of the European Union.

Notable candidate: Number 4 candidate Sergejs Dolgopolovs was for many years a Saeima deputy with the Harmony party and even a nominal prime ministerial candidate at one time.

Summary: Sovereign Power's candidate list contains several former Harmony party names as well as former Law and Order, Latvia First, KPV LV, Honor to Serve Riga, and other members. Their pitch is basically populist family values of an overtly Christian character with a bit of Covid-skepticism added. However, the failure to address the war in Ukraine except by saying "in these complex geopolitical conditions, diplomacy and the wisdom of leaders are more important than armaments and defense strategy planning" is telling.

Factoid: The first candidate on the party list, Jūlija Stepaņenko, is married to the last candidate on the party list, Vjačeslavs Stepaņenko.


CVK info:


13. Tauta. Zeme. Valstiskums. (People. Land. Statehood.)

Quote: "Together with the Nordic countries and Ireland, the rash decision to ban the use of fuel peat from 2030 must be canceled."

Program: Picking up the unlucky number 13 slot on ballot papers is a party that has three words – or arguably three very short sentences – as its name. Luckily it goes into a bit more depth in its proposed program. It advocates for continued NATO membership "without creating parallel military structures within the European Union" and even says the U.S. and European members should commit to the same military specifications. Latvia and the European Union should "increase the level of consultations and diplomatic negotiations with the biggest policymakers of the global world: the USA, India, China, as well as Turkey". There is lots of warning about immigration and a surprisingly lengthy discourse on encouraging salmon to spawn in small rivers, but reducing CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050 is described as "unrealistic" and "utopian ideas". It says nuclear reactors should be built instead of wind turbines.

Notable candidate: TZV (or possibly T.Z.V.) is a vehicle for former National Alliance veteran Aleksandrs Kiršteins, generally considered one of the most right-wing of right-wing Saeima deputies. He parted ways with the National Alliance following a trip to China paid for by the People's Republic's government. 

Summary: Fighting their first election, this is unarguably a party of the right, maybe even for people who find the National Alliance not quite nationalist enough, though T.Z.V.'s eclectic selection of policies is far from standard right-wing fare. The detailed information on hydroelectric dams and salmon spawning suggests the party may contain some enthusiastic fishermen.   

Factoid: In an embarrassing goof, the party was originally listed as 'Tauta. Zeme. Valsts. (Nation. Land. Country.) but it was noticed that under Latvian law you're not allowed to have a party containing the word 'Valsts' because people might mistake it for an official state body. The CVK entry has since been amended.


CVK info:

14. Zaļo un zemnieku savienība (Greens and Farmers' Union)

Quote: "For goods from third countries that do not meet European standards, a cost-compensating tax should be applied to maintain the competitiveness of European products"

Program: Traditionally, this political force, usually abbreviated as ZZS, takes its support from farmers and therefore it is no surprise to see that the program for the elections strongly stresses financial support in the agrarian area. "Agriculture in Latvia is not only the cornerstone of the economy, but also the basis of national identity and cultural heritage," according to ZZS, and so EU payments to farmers should be equal across the bloc, while at the same time "It is important to adapt European policies according to the specifics and needs of different regions." There is qualified to support for the EU's Green Course, but it should take place "in such a way as not to create an excessive financial burden for Latvia" and there is skepticism expressed about current environmental targets. There are also a few lines about immigration, suggesting that "EU countries should develop common criteria for hiring seasonal workers. In the name of Europe's security future, clear rules for the identification, integration or deportation of hostile immigrants must be provided."

Notable candidate: Candidate number 3 is Andris Bērziņš. No, not the former President named Andris Bērziņš, but the former Prime Minister named Andris Bērziņš. 

Summary: Having found themselves unceremoniously excluded from the government after the 2022 Saeima elections, ZZS bounced back when the coalition composition changed after less than a year. Consequently, they now may be subject to a mid-term protest vote from disgruntled farmers or they may get an endorsement from their traditional base. To a large extent, it depends how the countryside feels about current Agriculture Minister Armands Krauze. He's actually among the candidates, though so low down at number 12 that this is just a symbolic gesture.

Factoid: The 'Greens and Farmers Union' no longer actually contains the Latvian Green Party. These days they are part of the United List political force, which is rather confusing for voters.


CVK info:


15. Jaunā Vienotība (New Unity)

Quote: "Russia was, is and will be a source of instability and military threat to all of Europe, both in the near and distant future"

Program: Having held the reins of power for a while now, a lot of effort goes into stressing that the party's politicians are competent – the sort of faint praise that might surprise people in other countries where hyperbole is the norm. EU enlargement is endorsed, condemnation of Russia and support for Ukraine clearly expressed. New Unity thinks "A common policy to reduce the threat and legal regulation of artificial intelligence should be developed" by Europe and EU funds should be used more efficiently in Latvia. It's all pretty mainstream stuff that could be found in all the EPP-affiliated parties without controversy.

Notable candidate: The lead candidate is EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis. This is symbolic – he's unlikely to decide he'd rather be a humble MEP. Candidate number two is Krišjānis Kariņš (see below), after which the party's three existing MEPs are listed. How many of them can all retain their seats will be interesting to watch. 

Summary: Having been the strongest political party in Latvia for a decade, these elections will be a big test for New Unity. Mid-term elections are usually rough on parties in power, and on top of that the scandal surrounding former PM Krišjānis Kariņš' flying habits still rumbles in the background. The party may secretly wish he wasn't on the ballot papers, but he is, prominent at number 2. Unity's recent supporters might just decide to skip the election rather than necessarily vote for another party. Anything less than a painful result would be quite positive, in fact.

Factoid: New Unity has the oldest average candidate age at 54.8 years. 



16. Stabilitātei! (For Stability!)

Quote"Today's policy implemented by the European Union, which directly affects Latvia, is practically incompatible with the country's development and prosperous future."

Program: It's another program designed to appeal to the aggrieved voter, stressing rising costs for gas, water, food, home loans, and other things. The party says sanctions against Russia have failed and are counter-productive, and "Russia continues its development, successfully operates in international markets and European markets with the help of intermediaries" and laments the loss of Russian tourists. The program is careful not to overtly endorse Russia's actions but there is a clear intimation that things would be a lot cheaper if we weren't so nasty to Russia. "The sacrifice of our sovereign interests will not be remembered or appreciated by anyone internationally," it says.

Notable candidate: The number 1 candidate Ņikita Piņinš is listed as a product manager at FinTech and international payments company NexPay.

Summary: The party with the urgent-sounding name broke out at the 2022 Saeima elections, surprising many. In that vote, they seem to have captured a lot of former Harmony voters from the ethnic Russian minority, so this will be the first real opportunity to see if they can hold on to them. Their combative style in the Saeima debating chamber has given them a higher profile than their small number of seats would suggest. 

Factoid: With an average candidate age of 35.5 years, this is the youngest party contesting the European Parliament elections from Latvia.


CVK info:



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