The Progressive Post

🇱🇻 Latvia does it again: the right-wing prevails

LATVIA

Aleksandra Semendjajeva, board member of S&D party Saskaņa (Harmony)
13/06/2024

Pandemic, crisis, war in Ukraine, change of government – the past five years have covered it all, and despite the questionable leadership of the country and decisions that have been criticised by nearly all citizens of Latvia, the European elections in Latvia finished with almost the same results as in 2019.

The Latvian voter turnout in 2024 stayed the same relatively low 33 per cent as in previous elections for European Parliament. This time seven parties found their ways to get to the mandates: 

  • Centre-right New Unity with 25.09 per cent (in 2019 received 26.40 per cent)
  • National-conservative/ right-wing populist National Alliance ‘All for Latvia! – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’ with 22.07 per cent (in 2019 received 16.49 per cent)
  • Liberal for Latvia’s Development with 9.36 per cent (in 2019 received 12.49 per cent) 
  • Centrist to centre-right, regionalist and green conservative The United List with 8.18 per cent (did ‘not participate in 2019) 
  • Social democratic, green Progressives with 7.45 per cent (in 2019 received 2.90 per cent) 
  • Social democratic Harmony with 7.13 per cent (in 2019 received 17.56 per cent) 
  • Right-wing populist Latvia First with 6.16 per cent (did ‘not participate in 2019) 

The two winning parties remained unchanged, New Unity and All for Latvia! – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK. Founded by ‘rich people’ two newly added political parties, participated in these elections for their first time: The United List with their programme built on the support of Ukraine, and Latvia First with their programme built on propaganda of euroscepticism and traditional values, denying the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. A once winning in all governmental elections S&D party Harmony received one mandate, and is considered a come-back sensation after a breaking loss in 2022, when the party did ‘not get elected for the Latvian parliament. 

Unlike in bigger member states such as France, Germany and Spain, the mindset of an average Latvian citizen is still struggling to clearly understand the value of being a part of the European Union. Not only is there therefore a lack of motivation to participate in the elections and treat them as a primary-order election, but there is even a resistance to support being a part of the EU, making it questionable whether being a part of it is beneficial or not. The turnout statistics proved this, as Latvia had the fourth lowest turnout across the EU member states. 

The campaigns for the majority of the parties were built on personal brands of ‘big’ politicians, previously elected members of the European Parliament and former ministers and city mayors. Much attention and focus was drawn to the war between Russia and Ukraine, and the programmes therefore included the protection and security of Latvia, as well as support for Ukraine and its inclusion in the European Union. Most elected parties promised green policies and solutions for climate protection in their programmes, which to a regular electorate was controversial based on the fact that none of those parties have ever contributed enough to protect the climate and promote green policies, except for the newly added “Progressives” party that claims to be the only green party in Latvia. One of the exceptions to the regular campaigns was the campaign of the S&D party Harmony, which focused on organising consulting events for thousands of the Russian-speaking population of Latvia, providing real help for the people to comply with the new laws and regulations on the need to pass the Latvian language exam in order to receive a residency permit. 

Even though the social democrats of Latvia received just one mandate out of nine possible, leaving the right and centrist parties with overwhelming control of electoral outcomes, the one representative of the S&D group from Latvia proved to be a perfect fit for fighting and protecting the rights of all people living in Latvia, including the minorities such as Russian-speaking citizens and non-citizens. The results of these elections leave quite a large amount of work for the social democrats still to face the struggles to improve the support and trust of Latvians in the left-wing parties. But as for the European Union itself, the optimistic view of the results is the fact that mandates went to one of the most experienced politicians of Latvia, who with their hard work and expertise should bring great value to the European Parliament.

Photo Credits: Shutterstock.com/AerialFilmStudio

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