How will parliamentary elections change Latvia?
The centre-right coalition in Latvia has lost its majority after general elections. The pro-Russia opposition party Saskaņa (Harmony) won the most votes and three parties won seats in parliament for the first time. In view of this fragmentation the formation of a new government is likely to be difficult. Journalists examine what this means for the Baltic state.
No changes on the way
There will not be any radical changes in Latvia after this election, political scientist Filips Rayevskis writes on the website of Latvian public broadcaster LSM:
“Before the election the citizens were told all kinds of threatening stories: both about a Russian government and about old and new actors who would now come to power and make everything possible go wrong. But that won't happen. ... Radical changes aren't possible with this constellation in parliament. It will be hard to for it to reach any decisions at all. ... The politicians will soon reach the conclusion that it's far better for them to start thinking about the coming elections already rather than make serious compromises.”
Estonia needs a stable neighbour
Postimees finds the election results in Latvia worrying because with seven parties in the new parliament the formation of a government will be difficult and any potential coalition will be fragile:
“Our southern neighbour's colourful political scene isn't as easy to understand as that in Finland or Sweden. ... At the same time the many social problems we share makes Latvia a closer companion to us. In the European Union and internationally it's useful for Estonia to move at the same pace as Latvia on the main issues. In this respect the election results are worrying for us. Estonia's interests tally with the statement of Latvia's President Vejonis: a stable government, sticking to the current security and foreign policy and the continuation of reforms.”
No cause for panic
Fears of radical political change are unfounded, Neatkarīgā writes:
“We shouldn't overdramatise the situation, particularly since the election result cannot be predicted exactly with the statistical methods now at our disposal. But even the worst scenarios won't entail a radical change in Latvian foreign policy. In a democratic country the government can only implement policies that are supported by the population, the employees in federal and municipal governments, the army and the security apparatus. Attempts to introduce changes that most Latvians would oppose could mean political suicide. Such parties would land on the dustbin of history.”
No one wants out of the EU and Nato
Despite warnings to the contrary Latvia's membership in the EU and Nato is not in danger, comments former Latvian president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga in a guest commentary for the weekly paper Ir:
“Did any party say in the election campaign that Latvia should follow Britain's example and leave the EU? Did anyone say that we want out of the EU because all it has brought us is prostitution and graffiti? No, no one did. Did any party say that its first goal would be to exit Nato if it came to power? Of course not. And that is very important. Because in other countries there are parties that really do say such radical things. Thank God there's nothing like that here. For that reason I would also not say that we're tottering on the edge of an abyss.”