05/10/2002 - Results
"New Era, Einars Repse's brand new party won the Latvian general elections on 5th October. With 23.84% of the vote and 26 seats in the Saeima (Latvian Parliament), it achieved a better result than the opinion surveys had originally forecast. The former governor of the Central Latvian Bank who left his post last December to create his party and to present himself to the electorate is due to become the next Latvian Prime Minister. Like all of his predecessors he will however have to create a government coalition.
Einars Repse has already said that he would not govern with the group that took second place in the general election "For Human Rights in a United Latvia" (FHRUL) that won 18.86% of the vote and won 24 seats. This movement, that is a group of three leftwing parties that defend the interests of the Russian minority (but also Byelorussian and Ukrainian) in Latvia favours its entry into the European Union but pleads for a deferral of its entry into NATO.
The People's Party (TP), chaired by a former Prime Minister Andris Skele, a member of the out going government coalition won 16.72% of the vote and took 21 seats. He is followed by the Eurosceptic movement, the Union of Farmers and the Greens (ZSS) who won 9.85% of the vote and 12 seats; the centrist party "Latvia's First" that was founded just a few months ago and was nicknamed the clergy's party won 7.16% of the vote and 10 seats - finally the third member of the out going government coalition, the Union for the Motherland and Freedom , (TB/LNNK) achieved 5.35% of the vote and 7 seats. Finally we might take note of the participation rate (72,49%) that was higher than forecast by the opinion polls and above all it was higher than that recorded during the last general elections on 3rd October 1998 (71.9%) - this is a rare enough fact to be worth a mention.
The great loser in this general election is the outgoing Prime Minister Andris Berzins whose movement The Latvian Way (LC) did not achieve the necessary 5% to be represented in the Saeima. "I worked relentlessly, honestly and I am convinced that people appreciated this" he said during his electoral campaign. But in spite of an honourable economic result, Andris Berzins did not manage to erase from the electorate's memory his poor results in terms of the fight against corruption. They preferred the new "Mr Clean" on the Latvian political scene. Einars Repse, is a very popular person in the Baltic Republic since he replaced the rouble by the lat, the present national Latvian currency. "The government will lead a war against corruption and criminality and it will be honest work. It will not act in the party's interest but in that of the nation", declared the former governor of the Central Latvian Bank.
Indeed it is a heavy task that awaits the future Latvian government. It will have to continue along the road to economic recovery, succeed in really stopping the corruption that is poisoning the country and finally ensure Latvia's entry into the European Union and according to all probability, into NATO. A referendum will be organised in the coming months to ratify the country's integration within the Fifteen. After her visit to France at the beginning of October President Vaira Vike-Freiberga declared that this election would be held on 23rd August 2003.
Results of the General Election on 5th October:
Participation : 72,49%
Source Agence France Presse