Latvia’s pro-Kremlin, populist and nationalist parties are expected to emerge as the ruling centre-right coalition’s biggest challenge at the polls on October 6.
“Nobody knows what Latvia will be like next month,” political scientist Marcis Krastins told the Agence France Presse (AFP) ahead of the election with a third of voters still undecided. “But a cabinet of populists and pro-Kremlin politicians is a real possibility if they find some third party with which to form a coalition.”
The prospect is frightening for many in a country that spent half a century under Soviet occupation before regaining independence in 1991.
“Pay attention to what (the Pro-Kremlin party) Harmony is saying out loud in their ads: they’re promising to lower defence spending to one percent of GDP,” political analyst Marcis Bendiks told NRA daily. “That is a breach of Nato mutual understanding. This is their principal promise to voters.”
According to AFP, Harmony, which was formerly allied with Putin’s United Russia party, is popular with Latvia’s ethnic Russians who account for a quarter of the population.
It won the largest number of votes in the last three elections but was unable to attract any partners into a coalition to form a government.
Instead, the centre-right Greens and Farmers Union, the right-wing National Alliance and the centre-right Unity formed a three-party coalition government after the 2014 election.
The latest polls put the populist New Conservative Party in third place on a ballot that includes 16 parties.