Steep rise in ratings for populist party in Latvia

The latest party ratings polls commissioned by LTV and carried out by the SKDS polling agency put MP Artuss Kaimiņš' party, KPV LV, as the third most popular in Latvia.

The polls say that, should the vote take place in July, KPV LV would garner at least 7% of electoral support, up from 4.4% in June. It is by any standards a spectacular increase and likely results largely from recent controversies involving Kaimiņš which have ensured massive media coverage. 

The Saskaņa (Harmony) party is still the most popular party in Latvia with 21.4% of the vote. They've observed a slight increase in ratings. 

Meanwhile the Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) of Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis would receive 12.4% of the votes and the nationalist-oriented National Alliance 6.8%.

Hovering just below the 5% threshold required for making it into the parliament are the For Development/For! alliance(4.4%) and the New Conservative Party (3.9%).

Political scientist Ivars Ījabs told LTV that KPV LV has seen its ratings increase as party leader Artuss Kaimiņš was detained by anti-graft police in late June. This has enabled him to cultivate an image of a victim, and therefore the increase in ratings is not surprising, Ījabs argued.

Since being detained, Kaimiņš has appeared in public in tandem with lawyer and party member Aldis Gobzems, portraying his arrest as a political conspiracy to suppress a rebellious voice and occasionally bashing the media, in the familiar mold of populists across the world.  

A former actor and talk-show host, Kaimiņš founded KPV LV after walking out on the Regional Alliance party. Such was his popularity that he all but single-handedly brought the Regional Alliance into the parliament at the last elections and, provided he can continue upping the political ante this time around, he looks set to repeat the trick on October 6. 

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