RIGA - On the eve of parliamentary elections, Latvian politicians have begun spreading their campaign message far beyond national borders in the hope registered voters living outside the country will cast their ballot.
Vents Armands Krauklis, coordinator for the ruling People's Party election campaign, said that although the party had no plans for a "loud campaign"'s one that targets Latvians abroad 's it may address potential foreign voters through the electronic media.
The People's Party plans to send foreign compatriots e-mails urging them to participate in the elections.
"Given that the People's Party boasts the largest structure in Latvia, personal contacts will ensure better results than sending an emissary of some kind," Krauklis said.
Artis Kampars, who heads the opposition party New Era's campaign, said members were also planning to target foreign Latvians. He declined, however, to elaborate on their tactics.
"Each resident of Latvia, including those who are currently living abroad, is important," Kampars said. Therefore, he added, New Era would address this constituency.
Campaign organizers hope that, once foreign Latvians learn of New Era's plans to improve the nation's social, political and economic situation, they will be more eager to return home.
Juris Saratovs, secretary general of Latvia's nationalist alliance For Fatherland and Freedom, said the party has supported voting among diaspora groups in the United States, Canada and Ireland, sending them party information booklets.
Latvia's First Party has also sent representatives to countries with a large number of Latvian guest workers. Yet the party does not plan to set up official campaign stations in these countries, a spokesperson said.
Other parties have no specific plans to lure the foreign vote. Augusts Brigmanis, chairman of the Greens and Farmers Union faction in Latvia's parliament, said the alliance was not planning anything special for foreign citizens.
Brigmanis noted that Agriculture Minister Martins Roze, also a member of the Greens and Farmers Union, recently visited Ireland to discuss the upcoming elections with Latvians working there. This was as far as their "loud campaign" would go.
Latvia's Central Election Commission will set up a total of 52 polling stations in foreign countries, allowing voters a convenient alternative for casting their ballots.
According to various estimates, about 50,000 to 100,000 Latvian citizens currently live in foreign countries.