Election win for Latvian centre-right confirmed


Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis and his centre-right coalition have secured enough seats to become Latvia's first government to win consecutive terms of office.

Electoral authorities today declared final results which allows the government to pursue its pro- European Union and economic expansionist policies.

Latvia joined the European Union in 2004 and the government has pledged to adopt the euro. In the first half of 2006 its economy grew 12 per cent.

The final tally showed Mr Kalvitis's People's Party, with its partners the Greens, the Farmers Union and Latvia's First Party, had won just short of 45 per cent of the vote, Latvia's Electoral Commission Chairman Arnis Cimdars told a press conference.

The coalition now has enough support to secure 51 seats in Latvia's 100 seat parliament, the commission said in a statement. This compares with the previous election in 2002, when the government won 55 seats.

Analysts had predicted the result, saying voters would opt for continued prosperity and ignore issues such as concern about corruption, the widening gap between rich and poor and the problems of a large ethnic Russian population.

The election commission said the final voter turnout was 61.38 per cent.

Latvia's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga told a press conference earlier she was confident a prime minister and cabinet would be nominated and confirmed by parliament quickly, unlike the last election when the process took more than six weeks to complete.

"I think it will be a lot easier because all party leaders have expressed the desire to work together," she said.

Political analysts said it was all but certain that Mr Kalvitis, who has vowed to continue the free-market, low-tax policies which have helped the former Soviet state become one of the EU's fastest-growing economies, would retain his job.

In the coming week the governing parties are expected to consider expanding the coalition to give it a larger working majority in parliament.