ANALYSIS: Latvian discontent to shine through in weekend elections

  • 2010-09-27
  • TBT Staff

The individual names and policies are much the same as they were in the previous electoral cycle.

RIGA -- With less than one week left until national elections, Latvians are ready for a change in the way the country is run.

A slew of recent pre-election polls all point to the same thing -- Latvians aren't happy with the behavior of their politicians. And they are ready to prove it at the ballot box.

By the looks of it, the 10th Saeima may be a completely different entity than the last one. Here's what people are saying (according to the latest "DnB Nord Latvijas barometrs" and SKDS surveys):

Nearly half the population -- 46 percent -- plan on casting their vote for a different party than they did in the previous Saeima elections.Just 4 percent of the population said they like the party leaders that represent the group they voted for last time.More than half, 55 percent, believe that politicians created the economic crisis by failing to properly regulate the economy.Less than one third of people, 31 percent, are happy with the way they voted last time.The number of people who say they trust the government has steadily fallen over the past three election cycles -- the statistic for the current (9th) parliament is only 15.4 percent, thiscompared to nearly 40 percent for the 6th Saeima.

The trend is clear, but the fallout could take any number of forms. The most surprising, perhaps, is that this is the first election since Latvia regained independence in which a pro-Russia party, in this case Harmony Center, stands a real chance at heading the government.

Because when all is said and done, there really aren't many new names on the list. The parties may have superficially changes their names in an effort to dodge bad stereotypes, but the policies and the people remain the same.