RIGA - Political parties' popularity ratings are comparatively low at the moment, which means a large number of undecided voters and different potential surprises, political scientist and public relations expert Filips Rajevskis said in an interview with LETA.
The expert emphasized several intrigues that should be resolved at Saeima elections. "If we look at the top of party ratings, competition between New Unity and the United List is very interesting. On the one hand, New Unity is a party of the prime minister and the government, while the Unite List is mostly made up of politicians who are not Saeima members, and its candidate for the prime minister, Uldis Pilens is a new face in politics, even though he was a member of the People's Party at one point. However these two political forces are somewhat similar, and the United List offers an alternative to classic supporters of New Unity who are moderate, in touch with reality and don't get fooled by unrealistic promises. This is always a challenge for a party that has been in power for four years, because its voters may feel that something needs to be changed. That is why this competition between New Unity and the United List is very interesting, the question is how they will divide the voters, because they are in the same niche," said Rajevskis.
Another intrigue is the competition between Development/For and the Progressives, and whether the Progressives will be voted into Saeima at all. "I am still one of those who believe it will be difficult for them to clear the 5 percent threshold. We already saw it four years ago when everyone kept saying that they would get elected to the parliament, but they barely took 3 percent of the vote. Their ratings before the elections were much better than the afterwards."
"This is because of how our voting system works, which has constituencies, and parties need to have leaders in all these constituencies. Moreover, it is one thing to say who you will vote for during the polls, another thing is to actually go and vote. A potential supporter of the Progressives may not go to the polling stations at all because he or she does not have time, the weather is good on election day, there was a party the night before and he or she has a headache in the morning, and so on," said Rajevskis.
He also commented on competition between the National Alliance and the Conservatives. The Conservatives are trying very hard to improve their ratings in different ways, including by vilifying the National Alliance, yet their ratings remain flat. Rajevskis reminded that in the last Saeima elections, the Conservatives took a chunk of the National Alliance's electorate, but now these voters are turning back to the National Alliance, which could be explained by a series of inconsistent votes by the Conservatives.
"Next, we can talk about the so-called Russian parties. We have Harmony with its rather incomprehensible policy, which ranges from condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 to the decision not to vote on non-recognition of the referenda in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia. They are feeling around, but they are inconsistent and it is really not clear what they are saying to their voters. Then there is the Latvian Russian Union and For Stability with their consistent, radical Russophilia. This may seem too much for many voters. The Latvian Russian Union has always had about 20,000 voters voting for it at each election, and their success has always depended on the total voter turnout. For Stability, on the other hand, focuses on the same radical voters, especially the younger ones. Therefore they basically take away votes from the Latvian Russian Union, maybe also from Harmony," said Rajevskis.
In Rajevskis' opinion, Harmony will probably get voted into the 14th Saeima. If the voter turnout is high, the Latvian Russian Union and For Stability will not be able to overcome the 5 percent threshold.