Expert: COVID-19 time can motivate people to vote in Riga elections

Director of the think tank “Providus”, Iveta Kažoka, said in an interview to Latvian Radio August 25, that COVID-19 situation and opportunity to change the current leadership of Riga City Council could motivate people to go to elections.

“Those decisions that have to be taken under the influence of COVID-19 are often existential and affect not only the financial well-being of people, but also health and even life,” Kažoka said, adding that citizens understand the extent to which decisions that can affect their and their families' future depend on the government in Riga.

Kažoka said there was sharp competition in these elections. “Many parties are running that often compete for the same voters in very similar areas. (..) I think there is a little less aggression among candidates against each other. There are also no very clear motives. A few years ago, the main theme was “All of us against existing power”. This time, campaigns are more about personalities, more to show that different lists have a plan what to do with Riga,” said the expert.

Kažoka said that the ratings currently available show which parties have the prospect of entering the Riga City Council in general, but do not show what the allocation of seats will be.

For voters who have not yet chosen what to vote, she recommended the Mayor Sorting Quiz (Mēru šķirotava). “It will not give a definite answer to vote in this election, but it will show those lists that are in line or certainly not in line with the voter's views,” Kažoka said. The sorting quiz is available in Latvian and Russian.

15 political forces, who have submitted their lists of candidates, have applied for the Riga City Council's emergency elections.

In February this year, the Latvian Saeima voted to dismiss the Riga City Council. The extraordinary elections were originally planned for April but following the state of emergency the date was changed several times until it was set to August 29.

According to the LETA newswire August 25, more than one third of voters in Rīga, (35.1 percent), have not yet decided who they will vote for in Saturday's municipal elections, according to a Latvijas Fakti political survey conducted between August 14 to 18, questioning 498 voters over the age of 18 in Rīga by telephone.

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