Unity party shrugs off dismal ratings

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In February a mere 5.4% of voters would have cast their ballots for the coalition party Unity, according to a SKDS poll prepared for Latvian Television's "De Facto". The party is seeing historically low ratings and is bogged down by scandals, reported Latvian Television Sunday.

The rating crisis of one of Latvia's ruling parties has been dragging on since November, when the party lost the premiership following internal bickering.

Furthermore, Unity is in danger of losing state funding, and court verdicts have come into force over several instances of vote buying.

In the 12th Saeima election Unity was the second most popular party, trailing behind Harmony with 21.9% of the votes, which scored the party 23 seats in the Latvian parliament. 

The SKDS poll data however show that now the popularity of Unity is closer to that of the minor parties - Regional Alliance (3.9%) and Latvia From the Heart (2.8%) than National Alliance (8.3%), which holds 17 seats in the parliament. 

"Of course it's not a situation that we could be proud of and in which we would think our members, who are preparing for municipal elections, to be feeling comfortable," said party leader Solvita Āboltiņa.

A week ago the Central Statistics Bureau weighed whether the numerous vote buying cases in favor of Unity have influenced the party's results. At the moment 57 votes have been annulled, cast for Unity candidate Dzintars Zaķis in the election.

He doesn't plan on putting down his mandate even as the last court verdict revealed that the bought voters were transported in buses in a scheme organized by former Unity MP Igors Aleksandrovs. 

According to the bureau, if 21 more votes are proven to be bought in the Latgale region, Unity will lose a seat in the Saeima. 

However the seat would have to be put down by Anrijs Matīss, whom Laimdota Straujuma demanded to resign as Transport Minister last autumn. He in turn has for the second time turned to the ethics committee of the party, asking to evaluate Straujuma's decision over his resignation.

Amid inner strife Unity announced a congress to be held on October 29, when the party leader and board will be re-elected.

However several party departments from the regions of Latvia have announced a regional meeting to be held on Saturday, in which they are planning to ask for the congress to be held much earlier, in the spring.

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