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EP elections turn in some surprises

May 26, 2014
From wire reports, RIGA

The 2014 European Parliament elections have now come and gone, with the winners in celebratory mode, and the losers having a long look at their failings.

The new Latvian team at the European Parliament is solid enough to pursue the country's interests there, which must become the main task for the eight politicians, President Andris Berzins said in an interview on LNT television on May 26, reports LETA.

In Berzins' opinion, energy and the further development of the European Union are the main matters for Latvia and the EU at the moment. Asked about the possible effect of the EP elections on Saeima elections this fall, Berzins declined to say what it could be. He did say that he had hoped for greater voter activity.

In Latvia on Saturday, May 24, 46.19 percent voted for Unity, while All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (VL-TB/LNNK) - took 14.25 percent of the vote, Harmony Center - 13.04 percent, Greens/Farmers - 8.26 percent, and Russians' Union of Latvia - 6.38 percent of the vote.

3.73 percent voted for Aleksandrs Mirskis' party Alternative, 2.49 percent for the Association of Latvia's Regions, 2.12 percent supported For Latvia's Development, and 1.54 percent voted for Latvia's Socialist Party.

As a result, Unity has won four seats in the new EP. VL-TB/LNNK, Harmony, Union of Greens and Farmers, and the Russians' Union of Latvia will each have one seat in the EP.

Only 30 percent of eligible voters participated in the EP elections in Latvia.

In Estonia, former Prime Minister Andrus Ansip led the ruling Estonian party, the Reform Party, to winning two seats in the European Parliament at the elections that took place on Sunday, leaving the biggest opposition party, the Center Party, this time with just one seat that went surprisingly to MP Yana Toom, reports Public Broadcasting.

Out of the six Euro-parliament mandates Estonia is entitled to, Reform Party took two with a vote count of 79,865 while Ansip alone scored 45,037 votes.

Besides Ansip, independent candidate Indrek Tarand (43,390 votes), Social Democrat Marju Lauristin (26,871), Center Party MP Yana Toom (25,263), Reform Party MP Kaja Kallas (21,504) and European Parliament member, Pro Patria and Res Publica (IRL) member Tunne Kelam (18,773) were elected to the European Parliament.

"The main issue of the elections was security. The Estonian people are worried about the security of the Estonian state. It is extremely important that all of these six representatives of Estonia in the European Parliament understand the security of Estonia alike," said Ansip after the disclosure of the results.

One of the biggest surprises of the elections was Center Party MP Yana Toom getting 25,263 votes, which means that the party's chairman, Edgar Savisaar, was not the biggest vote-magnet this time, as he only scored 18,527 votes. However, Savisaar had announced already in advance that he would not be going to Brussels if elected. Toom was not on the second position in the party's internal candidates list at all; instead, she was last, at 12th position on the list and was not forecast to score that high at all.

Political analyst Tonis Saarts said that the victory by Ansip and the Reform Party and the major success by Toom shows that the opposing tactics based on the Russian factor worked. "The conflict was a bit weak for a major election, conflict but mobilized voters with both Estonian and Russian backgrounds," he said.

IRL's representative Kelam, who was re-elected into the European Parliament, said that he is worried about Toom getting a mandate. Kelam noted that if Estonia will be represented in Brussels by a politician who is like the Russian-minded Latvian MEP Tatjana Zhdanoka, then it is certainly harmful for Estonia.

Postimees said that Reform party collected altogether 79,865 votes or 24.3 percent of all votes; Center Party collected 73,449 votes or 22.3 percent; IRL 45,803 votes and 13.9 percent; Social Democratic Party 44,573 votes or 13.6 percent and independent candidate Indrek Tarand 43,390 votes or 13.2 percent of all votes.

36.44 percent of Estonian voters participated at the European Parliament elections on Sunday, which is less than last time when the turnout was 43.9 percent, but more than in 2004, when Estonia elected members to the European Parliament for the first time, when the turnout was 26.83 percent.

Based on preliminary data, 11 members of the European Parliament have been elected for a five-year term of office.

After calculating votes from 1,515 polling districts, according to the preliminary data, the Social Democratic Party will be represented by Vilija Blinkeviciute and Zigmantas Balcytis, the Order and Justice Party by Rolandas Paksas and Valentinas Mazuronis, the Labour Party by Viktor Uspaskich and Vydas Gedvilas, the conservatives by Gabrielius Landsbergis and Laima Andrikiene, the Liberals' Movement by Antanas Guoga, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (LLRA) by Valdemar Tomasevski, and the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union by Ramunas Karbauskis.

According to Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission (VRK) Zenonas Vaigauskas, the list may change once results from all 2,004 polling districts come in.

Lithuania will have 11 seats in the Parliament. In 2004, Lithuania elected 13 MEPs; in 2009 - 12 MEPs. The reduction is associated with Croatia's accession to the EU and changes in population.

Nine political parties have competed in the European Parliament election: the Liberals' Movement; the Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats; the Labour Party; the Order and Justice Party; the Lithuanian Green Party; the National Union; the Liberal and Center Union; the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union; the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, and the only coalition entitled Valdemar Tomasevski's Block, consisting of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and the Russian Alliance.

There were 216 candidates who sought to be elected to the European Parliament.

Candidates of the party or a joint list of candidates may receive mandates of members of the European Parliament only if no less than 5 percent of the voters participating in the elections voted for it.

The Central Electoral Commission will announce the final results of the presidential and the European Parliament elections in a week after the election.

On July 1-3, the new European Parliament will gather for the first time; then the president of the EP and 14 vice-presidents will be elected.

On July 14-17, the new president of the European Commission should be announced.

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