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Latvia

Chauvinism triumphs

Friday 1 October 2004

Representing more than a third of Latvia’s inhabitants, the Russian-speaking minority (less than half have Latvian nationality and civic rights) polarizes political life in Latvia. Fighting for civic rights, its political party, the PCTVL, made a remarkable breakthrough at the 2002 parliamentary elections. It won a seat in the European parliament at these European elections.

However, the demands of the Russian-speaking minority have awakened Latvian chauvinism. After the Diet had refused to ratify the Convention of the Council of Europe on the rights of national minorities in May, the June elections saw a triumph for the most nationalist parties: the Union For Country and Liberty (LNNK, ultra-nationalist), trounced at the parliamentary elections in 2002, came back with nearly 30% and won four out of nine European seats while the Party of the New Era won two seats. The two minor parties of the ruling coalition, the LPP and the ZZS (the latter participates in the European Green Party) did poorly.

1998 % 2002 % 2004 % seats EP
Participation 71.9 42.88 41.20
Party of the people (TP) 20.9 16.68 6.70 1
Latvian Road (LC) 18.2 4.89 6.57 1
Union For Country and Liberty (LNNK) 14.2 5.39 29.80 4
National Party of Harmony (TSP, ex-CP) 14.2 - 4.82 0
Social Democratic Workers’ Party (LSDSP) 12.9 4.02 4.83 0
Party of the New Era (JL) 7.4 23.98 19.82 2
Party For Civic Rights (PCTVL) - 19.09 10.70 1
Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS) - 9.47 4.29 0
First Party (LPP) - 9.57 3.27 0
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