13th Saeima elections: The parties (Part 2)

We continue our look at the sixteen parties which will contest the next Saeima elections on October 6.

The parties are listed in the order in which they will appear on ballot papers, from number 1 to number 16. You can read more information about the election process itself at the website of the Central Electoral Commission and we will be producing a summary of our own during the run-up to voting day.

Having already dealt with the first four parties, here are the next four.

Obviously, LSM does not endorse any particular party or candidate. Information is provided for general interest purposes only, and particularly for foreign election-watchers who may be confused by the Latvian political scene and the plethora of parties on offer.

 

5. "PROGRESĪVIE" ("PROGRESSIVES")

Quote"The Nordic Social Democrats' model is the goal of Progressives for Latvia: these are small, open-minded nations, where people live both day-to-day and in politics."

Program: Priorities are healthcare and social security with gradual increase in health spending to 8% of GDP. Political decisions to be informed by environmental concerns such as climate change and environmental protection to have more say in business. Less emphasis on GDP growth as a measure of social well-being, more on alternative measures like the World Happiness Report. Closer integration of Baltic and Nordic defense structures and closer cooperation politically with Nordic countries. Anti-austerity, more active investment by European Investment Bank, European Union-wide formula for calculating minimum wages and pensions.  

Notable candidate: Roberts Putnis was formerly an official at the Culture Ministry where he drew up controversial plans to reform public media. Now he is the Progressives' Prime Ministerial candidate (and at the same time candidate to be Health Minister), and one of a few openly gay politicians in Latvia. He was also a member of the German Social Democratic party from 2013-2016.

Summary: The Progressives are perhaps the closest thing Latvia  has to a classic social democratic party and their claims to a social democratic stance perhaps stand up to more scrutiny than Saskaņa, the other self-declared social democrats in the pack. Essentially, they want to adopt the Scandinavian or Nordic model into Latvia: higher taxes but correspondingly increased social services and welfare, with an economy less reliant upon raw materials and transit. In a neat move to underline their civil rights credentials, all of their number one candidates in the five electoral districts are women. However, this will be their first Saeima outing and it remains to be seen if the Nordic model really is a selling point in Latvia. There were talks about teaming up with the similarly-oriented Par! and Attistibai parties but the Progressives chose to go it alone while the other two joined forces.

Factoid: The progressives have the joint highest percentage of female candidates on their list among all the parties: 42.9%, exactly the same figure as Latvia's Russian Union. 

 

6. "Latvijas centriskā partija" ("Latvia's central party")

Quote"Refuse to participate in any military blocs and send the armed forces of Latvia beyond the border."

Program: Return of the lats as national currency to replace the euro, institution of "dual presidential republic", state monopolies in strategic sectors and state involvement in the means of production and distribution, leaving NATO and declaring military neutrality, popularization of "traditional family values", banning promotion of "sectarian and occult" ideologies, non-recognition of same sex marriages.

Notable candidate: Edvīns Puķe appeared in the last Saeima elections for the Latvia's Russian Union party and runs a vehicle restoration company called Sarkanā zvaigzne Rīga (Red star Rīga), however he clearly had a soft spot for Americana, declaring that he owned Harley-Davidsons and Cadillacs. 

Summary: A tiny party fielding just 23 candidates in total, pushing a variety of oddball policies that would seem to have little chance of implementation but which might appeal to nostalgic voters or those looking to make a protest vote. As with many of the party programs, there is a lot about things that need more money spent on them, but not much on where that money is going to come from. However, the party's headline policies: ditching the euro and NATO membership make them less of a joke than might otherwise be the case. 

Factoid: Several of the party's candidates have cropped up in previous similarly unconventional political groups before touting many of the same policies such as the Suverenitāte (Sovereignty) party and the Antiglobālisti (Antiglobalists).

 

7. "LSDSP/KDS/GKL"

Quote"The introduction of pseudo-genders in society is not permissible."

Program: EU and NATO membership cannot be put before national interests, Latvia needs to co-operate more with the Visegrad countries that "defend their national interests within the EU", partial regulation of the real estate market, developing "a sense of belonging to Latvia" over globalization, education based on traditional values, introduction of referendums at local government level. Reduction of the regulatory role of the Competition Council in the commercial world. Non-ratification of Istanbul convention.

Notable candidate: Andrejs Požarnovs was formerly a board member of both the Honor to Serve Rīga party and the nationalist For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK party which is now part of the National Alliance.

Summary: Another smallish party, or rather alliance of three different sub-parties with a strong emphasis on "traditional" Christian values and making money in a deregulated free market. The full name is "The Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party", "Christian Democratic Union", "Honor to Serve Our Latvia" which thankfully is abbreviated to SKG. Honor to Serve Our Latvia grew out of the parallel Honor to Serve Riga (GKL) party, which has been in a long-term alliance with the Saskaņa (Harmony) party. In the past GKL and Saskaņa they have operated joint election lists - but at national level this new triumverate will be trying to get elected for the first time. The exact level of cooperation between Honor to Serve Riga and Honor to Serve Latvia remains opaque, but one must assume that the similarity of the names means something.

Factoid: One of the three parties involved, LSDSP, caused considerable stink on social media in July with a political advertisement widely condemned as racist. The other two members of the triumverate said it was an internal matter for LSDSP.

 

8. No sirds Latvijai (For Latvia from the heart)

Quote"It's time for the prosperity of the people! For Latvia from the heart is against the ruling elite conservative parties."

Program: Reduce number of Saeima deputies from 100 to 60, popularly elected president, tax exemptions for families with three or more children, changing childcare system to encourage fostering and close orphanages, against migrant quotas, against Istanbul Convention, against same-sex marriages, increasing teachers' wages by a third by 2020, 

Notable candidate: Inguna Sudraba, a former State Auditor, is last woman standing as far as Saeima is concerned. 

Summary: With a name that sounds like a Tina Turner live album, For Latvia from the heart entered the 12th Saeima as an unknown quantity after a surprisingly widespread advertising campaign saw them take 7 seats at the first attempt. Four years later it's still not quite clear what the party is all about. Some decry them as a Moscow-backed project (which leader Inguna Sudraba has strongly denied), but if that is the case it has been a singularly unsuccessful investment by the Kremlin with the party steadily disintegrating over the course of the parliamentary term. Recent months have seen several defections to other parties by MPs looking to keep hold of their seats with the result that what was a parliamentary faction with 7 members now consists of Sudraba and, well, that's it. Unlikely to surprise this time around.

Factoid: The party will field 105 candidates, 40% of which will be standing in Rīga.

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