Results of EP elections in Latvia have not brought any big surprises - experts

  • 2024-06-10
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The preliminary results of the European Parliament (EP) elections in Latvia are without major surprises and reflect the importance of personalities in politics, the  surveyed political experts told LETA.

Political analyst and PR specialist Filip Rajevskis described the election results as "surprisingly good", including the "surprisingly strong" performance of New Unity. In his view, the results also show the "huge role of personality" in the electoral process in Latvia. For example, the two seats won by the National Alliance , according to Rajevskis, are a credit to the party's leader, Roberts Zile (National Alliance).

In contrast, the poor individual result of ex-prime minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) shows that people follow political developments and give their own "very negative" assessment. "I would be very sad if people had not noticed and were not able to evaluate [the politician's] actions," Rajevskis said.

Commenting on the overall election results, the political analyst said that this was the second election in which voters showed a very high level of organization and understanding of political developments and "very responsibly fulfilled their duty".

Lelde Metla-Rozentale, a political scientist and lecturer at Riga Stradins University (RSU), stressed the different results achieved by the leaders of political parties and other candidates, saying that when it comes to EP elections, voters tend to place their trust in leaders. 

Metla-Rozentale noted that all the parties that won seats in the EP parliament had their own "engines" or leaders, while Stability lacked such a leading candidate and finished with 1.98 percent of the vote, failing to reach its Russian-speaking electorate. "The voters could not find in the electoral list a name that would attract them to this list," the expert believes. 

In Metla-Rozentale' opinion, the Union of Greens and Farmers was the biggest loser in the EP elections with 2.28 percent voter support despite the large amount of money Greens/Farmers spent on their campaign. 

Metla-Rozentale sees the result of the Progressives as a partial loss - although the party has been elected to the EP, the election result is weaker than the results the party had been showing in popularity ratings in the run-up to the polls. The expert also noted that Riga ex-mayor Martins Stakis (Progressives) outperformed the Progressives' lead candidate Elina Pinto, even though Stakis represents "much more conservative values and a calmer, not so progressive rhetoric". 

Commenting on New Unity's victory, the political scientist noted that recent events could have caused some voters to worry about their choice. However, as the scandals involving New Unity became "so unbelievable and outlandish", the party's loyal electorate decided that the arguments were not convincing enough to change their choice. The political scientist also admitted that some voters might even have been shy to reveal that they would vote for New Unity in order to avoid criticism.

The political scientist thinks that there is a new trend in Latvian politics, where voters are not distracted from their political choices by minor scandals. If a voter wants to express their attitude, they choose to do so against a particular candidate, for example by giving a plus sign or crossing out a candidate on the ballot paper.

Vineta Kleinberga, a researcher at the RSU Faculty of Social Sciences, was also unsurprised by the result of the EP elections. In her opinion, they show that people in Latvia vote for personalities who are recognizable and represent stable values, even though there are also "new faces" among the elected MEPs, such as Reinis Poznaks, the leading candidate of the United List. "It's not that he hasn't been in politics before. He represents this particular direction - against the war in Ukraine, against Russia, which is what people voted for," the researcher said.

Kleinberga said the elected candidates are very strong. "Even though they eliminated Karins, the voters did not have to make a difficult choice to eliminate a strong candidate," the expert said. She believes that the voters' negative attitude to Karins could be put down to his much criticized performance as prime minister and later foreign minister and that many have forgotten his background as a former MEP. 

As reported, New Unity won the EP elections in Latvia, leaving the National Alliance in second place. New Unity and the National Alliance each won two mandates in the EP, while the United List, For Latvia's Development, Latvia First, Progressives and Harmony each won one mandate. Dombrovskis emerged as the candidate with higher voter support.