Latvia referendum will result in snap election
Latvian voters on July 23 overwhelmingly voted to dissolve parliament in a special referendum. The referendum was called by then-President Valdis Zatlers in May after their parliament, the Saeima, blocked an anti-corruption investigation against a prominent politician. The results set the stage for snap parliamentary elections on September 17.
Latvia has a unique provision where the president, who is elected indirectly by the Saeima, can call for a special referendum to dissolve the body. If the referendum fails, however, the president must step down. This became a mute point for Zatlers as the Saeima voted him out of office in response to the referendum. Zatlers called the poll just days before the Saeima was scheduled to hold its vote on the next president, and they apparently didn’t respond very well to his move.
Zatlers has already formed a new political party, The Zatlers Reform Party, which is apparently doing quite well in initial polling. A party this large emerging in a few months is likely to shake up the country’s party system, which has already undergone some major shifts in the past few weeks.
In a direct reference to the country’s most popular political force, meanwhile, LPP/LC — also center-right — has officially renamed itself Slesers’ Reform Party. Ainars Slesers, widely known as one of the country’s three “oligarchs”, is also the party’s candidate for prime minister. The ruling Unity political coalition, meanwhile, has officially declared itself a single party and re-nominated current Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis as their candidate for the next head of government.
Other parties and alliances in Lativa include Harmony Centre, which mostly represents ethnic Russians, and The Union of Greens and Farmers, who are a rare alliance between a Green movement and populist agrarians that actually place them on the right of the political spectrum.