Pro-Russians top Latvia vote but no majority: results

18th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A pro-Russian party scored an unprecedented win in Latvia's snap election Saturday but fell short of an absolute majority in the former Soviet state, partial results showed.

The Harmony Centre got 31.72 percent of the vote, according to results from 521 of the 1,027 polling stations, the state election commission said. The new anti-corruption Zatlers Reform Party came second with 19.36 percent.

The centrist Unity bloc of incumbent Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis ranked third with 17.08 percent of the vote.

The pro-Latvian National Alliance took 12.6 percent while the Union of Greens and Farmers -- widely dubbed an "oligarch" party -- came fourth with 12.8 percent.

The ballot in the EU member was triggered by a corruption crisis involving the so-called "oligarch parties" led by businessmen-cum-politicians, as the Baltic country struggles to emerge from Europe's deepest recession.

The Latvian-Russian ethnic divide emerged as a key issue at the polls. The Harmony Centre made its strongest showing ever, but was unlikely to find coalition partners among two mainstream parties wary of its formal ties with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

© 2011 AFP

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