Why do Latvians bother voting?

Voting is a simple enough task, but not everyone considers it worthwhile. While out and about during election day, LSM asked voters at various precincts the straightforward question: "Why are you voting?" Here's what they answered...

Sindija, a young Riga resident originally from Talsi, overheard discussing politics with companions on public transportation, told LSM:

I want my vote to count. I voted for Inguna Sudraba, I was wavering between her and the Greens and Farmers (ZZS), but since I couldn't find (ZZS premier candidate) Aivars Lembergs' name on the list, I decided to go From the Heart for Latvia.

Brigita and Ilze, pensioners from Riga:

We want to get a real government in there. (Ilze)

To get the old ones out, the new ones in. (Brigita)

Middle-aged Dzintra, who works in Riga, agreed:

I actually haven't voted in several years, but I decided to return to the polls again to get new people into government and send the old ones underground.

Ethnic Russian Nikolajs, met outside Precinct 52 at the Lithuanian-language High School in Riga's Ķengarags district, flashed his stamped passport and said, much to his companions' amusement:

I want to change things. I've been collecting these stamps since the 9th Saeima elections. Seems I'm a patriot. (laughs)

Martins, in his 30s, voting at Jaunmarupe school minutes before Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma:

It's every Latvian's duty to vote. I have to admit that blocking Harmony is one of the reasons I am voting for the National Alliance. But it's also because I think they have the best Prime Ministerial candidate in Roberts Zile.

Aija a young woman in her 20s:

Every citizen should vote. Personally I am voting for the Regional Alliance. It think something new is needed and the economy is the most important issue.

Pensioner Anete:

I'm not saying who I am voting for but I will say it was a Latvian vote. I think this election will throw up some surprises. If you don't vote, don't complain about the result.

Voting in Jugla, pensioner Leonids:

My dog got me up and brought me down here, I would rather be in bed! Seriously, I watched the debates. I'm Russian but I don't vote Harmony because I am Russian. You should vote on issues, not ethnicity or language.

Another dog lover, retired Karina and her 13-year old schnauzer Sana, who walks dogs for her multi-ethnic neighbors in Riga's Moscow district neighborhood and whose family was politically repressed by the Soviet regime:

I'm concerned that the Russians don't get that it's a matter of honor and self-respect to speak the language of the land you live in. Crimea went with a loud boom, but here it's happening silently...

At the same precinct in the brick art-nouveau building of Riga's Meridian International School another pensioner Ilona talked about how important these elections are:

It's every Latvian's duty to take part and decide for the good of their homeland. This time we want the Russians to know that we love them, we do not hate them, though they seem to hate us. There is room on God's earth for all peoples as long as we have love. We don't want tanks in Pskov, we want to be friends. God bless us all!

Parents Juris and Linda, with their two small children, also at Precinct 47:

We want to take part in creating Latvia's future.

Jolanta, a young Riga resident accompanied by her boyfriend:

This time we really care about what comes next.

Voting in Agenskalns, 21 year old Dmitrijs:

It is my name's day today so I am celebrating by voting for Harmony and Nils [Usakovs]. I hope I will still be celebrating tomorrow when the results are known. Russians here have been kept out of government for 20 years even though we helped win independence. We deserve to be part of the government.

Young man named Jānis from Riga, at Natalija Draudziņa High School:

It's a civic duty you fulfil every four years so that you have a stake in state power. You maybe later wind up disappointed or angry with your choice, but at least you've contributed your decision to the process.

Ponytailed Jānis and blond Anita, a couple in their thirties from Riga:

How could we not vote? It's a citizen's obligation, we've voted in all elections so far and will keep on doing so.

Gatis and Jana, young couple unlocking their bikes:

It's our citizen's duty and our contribution to our country. (Gatis)

Why wouldn't I? (Jana)

Ingrida (middle-aged mom), Kristaps and Aija (her adult children)

What do you mean, why? It's a citizen's duty to elect the Saeima, simple as that.

Aigars Kresla, popular musician from the band Jumprava

First off, to strengthen the position of the Latvian parties, in other words reduce the influence of the Russians who will be voting. I have no illusions of great change, and definitely no favorites among the Latvian parties, but my choice is prepared. I need to vote early today because Jumprava has a concert at the Gors in Rezekne.

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