Nils Ušakovs, became the first ethnic Russian mayor 2009. In June 2013 he was re-elected for another term.


The elections to the Parliament of the Non-Represented, a grassroots non-citizens’ initiative, took place at the same time as the residents of Riga were called to vote for a new City Council. Looking at these two very different June elections it is clear that the post-ethnic Latvia hailed by Harmony Center/GKR’s members is still far to come. The ethnic card, far from being obsolete, is still used for electoral purposes.

Published on on August 5, 2013

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June 2013 was an eventful month for Riga, with the elections to the Parliament of the Non-Represented, a grassroots non-citizens’ initiative, taking place at the same time as the municipal elections that reconfirmed Nils Ušakovs—the first Russian-speaking mayor of the Latvian capital—to his post. Notwithstanding their different nature, these elections are two faces of the same story; they reveal the tension, inherent in Latvia’s current political situation, between the ethnic polarization of the political debate and the quest for political legitimacy by Russian-speaking minority voices. Although this tension has always characterized Latvia’s post-independence politics, the increasing electoral success of the Russophone party Harmony Centre and the growing grassroots political mobilization of the Russian-speaking minority are pushing it towards a breaking point. This impels all the actors involved to renegotiate their positions in relation to each other, which may lead to one of two equally plausible developments. On the one hand, extreme positions might end up being reinforced, encouraging further ethnic polarization. On the other hand, the presence of Russian-speakers’ voices in the Latvian political arena might be progressively normalized, leading to a less emotional debate on minority-related issues. Although it is impossible to predict with any certainty how the situation will evolve, the two recent elections provide a detailed picture of where ethnic politics in Latvia stands today and of the risks and opportunities the current situation entails.

Elections to Riga City Council[1]

On June 1, 2013 the residents of Riga were called to vote for a new City Council. The election came after four years under mayor Nils Ušakovs, the first ethnic Russian to lead an administration in the capital city. Ušakovs secured another victory for his Russophone moderate ethnic party, Harmony Center, and kept hold of his post for another term. That Ušakovs won did not come as a surprise to anybody who was following politics in Riga; the main question before the elections was not whether Harmony Center would win but by how much.

Ušakovs had been elected mayor of Riga in 2009, after Harmony Center had won 34 percent of the vote and had entered a coalition with the centrist Latvian party Latvia’s First Party/Latvian Way (LPP/LC). The unthinkable had become reality: Riga, where a great share of Latvia’s population and wealth is concentrated, came under the control of a Russophone party that—by virtue of it being Russophone—had consistently been excluded from power at the national level. The 2013 municipal election did not mark the end of this anomaly, but instead entrenched Harmony Center’s dominant position in Riga. Harmony Center’s electoral bloc with the local political party “Gods kalpot Rigai!” (Proud to serve Riga!, GKR) won an impressive 58 percent of the vote, which gives them 39 seats out of 60 in the Riga City Council. Only two other parties made it beyond the 5 percent threshold: the right-wing nationalist National Alliance (17.8%, 12 seats) and the center-right Unity (14%, 9 seats), both currently in the Latvian government. Ušakovs’s success in Riga surely will impel some reconsideration in the other parties about what to do with Harmony Center at the state level; their ongoing exclusion from national power is looking a less and less tenable strategy.

Although minority policies are decided at the national level and local administrations have little or no say in issues like integration, language and education policies, the elections in Riga were from the start permeated by the “Russian question”. Interestingly, while the right-wing parties were (with more or less nuanced campaign messages) urging Riga’s ethnic Latvians to ward off the Russian threat represented by Ušakovs, the Harmony Center/GKR block stayed pragmatic and presented themselves as a unifying force beyond ethno-linguistic divisions. The day after the elections, newspapers were filled with Harmony Center/GKR candidates’ statements that proclaimed the end of ethnic vote and hailed the beginning of a new, post-ethnic era for Latvia. While this is clearly an overstatement, it does hold some truth.

By presenting a joint list with GKR (heir to the disbanded LPP/LC) Harmony Center intended to dispel the image of party of the Russians. There were rumors before the elections that Russophone voters would have used the peculiar in the Latvian electoral system, in which voters can show both positive and negative preferences for candidates, to cancel out Latvian names from the Harmony Center/GKR list and preserve Harmony Center as “their” party.[2] However, this did not happen. There was no ethnic pattern in the positive and negative preferences expressed by the bloc’s voters, and about 15 GKR candidates (many of whom Latvian-speakers) made it into the City Council. On top of this, and possibly more importantly, for Harmony Center/GKR to get 58 percent of the vote, they must have received a not-insignificant share of the ethnic Latvian vote. Indeed, although over half of the population of Riga are Russian-speakers (51%), their share of the electorate is much lower (many Russian-speakers are non-citizens and do not have the right to vote). The lower turnout (from 59% in 2009 to 55%) is not enough to explain the remarkable results.

While it is true that Russian-speakers voted compactly for Harmony Center/GKR, this does not necessarily mean that they were exclusively galvanized by ethnic issues. Firstly, it is important to note that few of the “Latvian” parties campaigned for their votes—and those that did, did so unconvincingly. Therefore, Russian-speaking voters were left with few options. At the same time, however, they mostly ignored Harmony Center’s more radical competitor За родной язык (For Mother Tongue, known as Zarya), which remained well below the threshold with 0.3 percent of the votes. While it is true that Zarya did not enjoy much exposure on the Russian-language media (mostly controlled by Harmony Center), this by itself hardly explains the extent of their defeat. Zarya was created by some of the same people that had so successfully mobilized Russian-speakers for the controversial 2012 referendum on Russian as second state language. Their debacle in the municipal election says something important about how difficult it is to translate protest into electoral capital, and about the often exaggerated power of ethnic outbidding.[3]

While outbidding was not the main operational principle on the Russophone side of the political spectrum, the same cannot be said of the right-wing (and ethnic Latvian) side.[4]  Unity, a usually moderately nationalist, right-wing party and the leader of the current Latvian governing coalition, openly played the outbidding game against their radical nationalist governing partner, the National Alliance (NA). Perhaps unsurprisingly, this achieved nothing more than boosting NA’s ratings. The nationalists, whose vote in Riga had plummeted well below the threshold in 2009, came back with a vengeance, collecting their highest proportion of the vote in Riga so far and surpassing Unity.

Both the Russian-language and the Latvian-language press pointed to Unity and its mayoral candidate, Sarmīte Ēlerte, as the source of their own defeat.[5] Ēlerte conducted a heavily negative, anti-Ušakovs campaign and, in her attempt to outbid NA, made no effort to attract the Russophone vote. So, while Ušakovs—strong in his position as popular incumbent—was talking about fixing the roads, improving social protection programs and building new kindergartens, Ēlerte kept talking about the Latvian language as the main priority for Riga. A telling example of Unity’s aggressively nationalist tone is their TV ad, which focused on Ušakovs’s links to the Russian Federation and his supposed disloyalty to Latvia, and ended with the ominous slogan “Riga is the only capital city of our only country: we lose Riga, we lose Latvia”.[6] It is fairly evident that “we” is not intended here as a very inclusive pronoun.

The negative campaign focusing on ethnic division alienated the Russian-speakers and possibly some moderate ethnic Latvians, but did not pay off. Those whose nationalist sentiments had been tickled by the anti-Ušakovs campaign had no reason to switch allegiances, and mostly gave their vote to the more consistently nationalist NA. Even those who did vote for Unity showed their disappointment with Ēlerte by crossing her name out on the ballot. Although she did make it into the City Council, Ēlerte’s name fell from first to third position in Unity’s list.

The heated ethnic tones of the campaign on the Latvian side made life difficult for another member of the current Latvian governing coalition, the Reform Party (RP), which got a disappointing 1.6%. A party with moderate positions on the ethnic issue (after the 2011 general elections they had initially pushed for a Unity–RP–Harmony Center coalition), in its campaign RP decried the use of nationalist rhetoric and presented themselves as the party of change beyond ethno-linguistic fault lines. They did not even categorically exclude entering a coalition with Harmony Center to govern Riga. However, their message remained too vague to attract Russophone voters: as a party functionary from the RP told me, “we ask the Russian-speakers to vote for us but then, when they ask what we are ready to offer more than the other Latvian parties, the answer is nothing”.[7]

After these elections, all the parties will have to decide how to handle Harmony Center’s undeniable electoral strength.[8] Andris Ameriks, leader of GKR, is already talking about the possibility of repeating the Harmony Center/GKR bloc in the upcoming national elections. Although this might increase Harmony Center’s chances to finally enter government, the billionaire’s embrace to Ušakovs could also be read as a sign that Latvia’s oligarchs may be using Harmony Center as a way to return to national politics.

As for the other parties, RP will have to decide whether to abandon its hesitations and more decisively campaign for the Russian vote. Unity will have to reconsider the wisdom of going nationalist and might need to work hard to regain their image as a pragmatic, economics-focused party (blaming it all on Ēlerte might be one way). The NA, for its part, will not have to reconsider much: their strategy paid off, and they might try to use their results in Riga to gain the upper hand over their badly defeated coalition partners in the national government.

So, while “we lose Riga, we lose Latvia” was an excessively dramatic campaign slogan (and indeed it backfired), elections in Riga have very strong reverberations in national politics. Harmony Center’s victory might bring it closer to finally entering the government, breaking yet another taboo in Latvian politics. However, this might come at the price of dragging back with it the much-vituperated oligarchs. Also importantly, the ethnic question (emphatically put aside by Harmony Center/GKR spokespeople as obsolete) is still playing a big part among the “Latvian parties”. Both Unity and RP—in different ways—have struggled in these elections to define their identity vis-à-vis Harmony Center on the one side and National Alliance on the other. If they do not manage to get out of this cul-de-sac before the next national elections, the competition will most probably be between Harmony Center and the nationalists. If this is the case, the big statements about the Riga elections having ushered in a new, post-ethnic era for Latvia will have proved well wide of the mark.

The Parliament of the Non-Represented

One issue that none of the municipal election candidates brought up (apart from Zarya, but without much visibility) is that almost one in four Riga residents did not have the right to vote, being officially classed as non-citizens. These are the citizens of the former Soviet Union—almost exclusively Russian-speakers—who were permanently residing in Latvia when it became independent but were excluded by the citizenship law from receiving citizenship by birth, did not go through the process of naturalization, and did not acquire the citizenship of a third country (such as Russia). Over half of Latvia’s almost 300,000 non-citizens live in Riga, making them just over 23 percent of the capital’s population. Differently from Estonia, where an equivalent citizenship law was passed with similar consequences, Latvia’s non-citizens are completely disenfranchised not only at the national but also at the local level.

The Non-Citizens’ Congress—a non-governmental advocacy group founded at the beginning of 2013—took the initiative to hold elections to a Parliament of the Non-Represented (PNR) as an attempt to give voice to Latvia’s non-citizens and redress what they see as their country’s democratic deficit. This initiative follows a period of increased activism on the part of the Russian-speaking community, whose most visible examples were the mass protests against the school reform in 2004, the mobilization for the referendum to make Russian the second state language in 2012, and, later that year, the collection of signatures for another referendum to grant citizenship to all non-citizens.[9] Together with Harmony Center’s electoral successes, this has increased the visibility of Russophone voices and claims in the Latvian political debate.

The PNR elections took place for ten days starting on July 1, both online and in special polling stations around the country. The coincidence with the municipal elections was deliberately chosen in order to take advantage of the heightened attention to politics associated with elections in Riga and in that way increase the PNR’s visibility in the media. While the elections to the PNR were meant to be nationwide, due to lack of resources, and the fact that half of the non-citizens live in Riga, most of the electoral activity was in fact concentrated in the capital city. Over 15,000 voters took part in the elections. These were both citizens and non-citizens, as the elections were open to all inhabitants of Latvia with no distinction of citizenship status. This turnout was considered a success by the organizers, who before the elections had set their goal at 10,000 voters. Thirty PNR representatives were elected among sixty candidates, who had publicized their candidacy through campaign videos distributed online and, mainly, through their informal personal networks. Of the 30 elected PNR members, 21 are non-citizens and 22 are from Riga.

On June 15 the first meeting of the PNR was held in Riga, during which the PNR adopted a draft “Declaration of the Parliament of the Non-Represented” and a letter to Latvia’s authorities. The first steps of the newly-formed PNR reveal a tension between two different approaches to the question of non-citizenship (and to the “Russian question” in general) that closely matches the same tension in mainstream politics. To put it simply, there are those in the PNR who look at non-citizenship as an ethnic question, which casts the Russophone minority against the Latvian-dominated state structures. Some of the Citizens’ Congress members even make the comparison between the role the Latvian Citizens’ Congress played in 1989–1991 for ethnic Latvians and the role the PNR should play in contemporary Latvia for Russian-speakers: both can be seen as parallel institutions that by their own existence denounce the illegitimacy of the official institutions.[10] However, there are also those who prefer to adopt a less confrontational approach and stress the importance of creating a united (civic) nation that includes all the inhabitants of Latvia. These PNR members’ position closely resembles Harmony Center’s post-ethnic discourse.

These two differing positions tend to come with opposing ideas about the best strategy for PNR to follow.[11] According to some, the Latvian establishment in the past twenty-two years has sufficiently shown its unwillingness to consider the Russophones’ point of view and therefore there is no point in talking to it; the PNR should instead lobby external actors (the EU, US, OSCE and other international organizations) to put pressure on Latvia. According to others, however, the PNR should work together with the Latvian state institutions in order to push them to make openings on a number of issues close to the non-citizens (not least the right to vote in local elections) in a more step-by-step approach. According to a PNR member I interviewed, this second position is held by the overwhelming majority of the elected members of PNR (90%). Indeed, the two documents prepared by the PNR in its first meeting reflect this second approach.

The PNR’s “Declaration” openly recognizes Latvia as an independent state and Latvian as its state language; it proposes to push aside the debate on the Soviet occupation as an issue for historians and not as the basis for policy decisions. Moreover, it declares that the PNR bases its work on the Latvian constitution, which does not make a distinction between ethnic and non-ethnic Latvians but simply talks about the “people of Latvia”. While it sets the PNR’s ultimate goal as citizenship for all the non-citizens, the “Declaration” clearly favors a step-by-step approach where intermediate, attainable goals will be the focus of the institution’s activity.[12] The PNR’s letter to the Latvian authorities shows in practice what this approach should look like. The letter is addressed to the Latvian president, the Saeima (the Latvian parliament), the Latvian government and local governments, and it asks them to accept the PNR’s offer for “constructive cooperation”. The letter clearly spells out that PNR members are officially delegated to take part in state-level and local-level committees and meetings as the representatives of non-citizens, and suggests that state and local authorities create such occasions.[13] In addition to this, during the trip to Brussels that followed the first PNR meeting, PNR delegates met several MEPs and offered their help as mediators between international organizations, the non-citizens and the Latvian government.

These first attempts at establishing the PNR as “a natural and necessary partner for the government to find a solution to the problem of mass non-citizenship and to create a united society” (as put by the PNR’s speaker Valerii Komarov)[14] seem in contradiction with some of its internal debate. In their first meeting, PNR members decided on the creation of a number of specialized committees that are to concentrate on specific, non-citizenship related issues. For example, a committee on granting local voting rights to non-citizens and a committee against linguistic discrimination were established. However, alongside these more obvious committees, a committee for the creation of a museum on non-citizenship and a committee to calculate the damage caused to both non-citizens and citizens by Latvia’s restrictive citizenship policies were also formed. Given the current status of the debate about Latvia’s recent history, it is reasonable to expect that an excessive focus by the PNR on issues of history and historical responsibility risks hijacking the discussion towards these largely intractable areas of entrenched interethnic disagreement. This would likely strengthen the nationalist discourse on the Latvian side and it would make it easier for the governing forces to sideline the PNR as yet another radical organization whose claims can be easily dismissed. History and its interpretation are of course central to understanding current politics in Latvia—and indeed the same existence of the non-citizens as a category. However, putting history at the center of the debate would likely jeopardize any possibility of cooperation with the Latvian authorities (and indeed also with the more sympathetic Harmony Center), condemning the PNR to political marginality. The PNR’s actual work will start only in September 2013 and it will be then that this tension between these contradictory tendencies (towards conciliation and towards confrontation) will have to be negotiated and­­­­—if the PNR is to count at all in the Latvian political landscape—resolved.

There are reasons to believe that a strategically conciliatory PNR might have its voice heard and—if nothing more—might be successful in pushing the question of non-citizenship (and of non citizens’ voting rights) back onto the agenda. Admittedly, the signals coming from the current government have not so far been very encouraging. The minister of defense, Artis Pabriks, exhorted all Latvians to defend their democracy from people who initiate referenda on a second state language and organize alternative institutions.[15] Hardly a promising opening for future cooperation. On an even harsher note, members of the nationalist NA asked the Latvian Security Police to initiate criminal proceedings against the PNR, as a potentially illegal, anti-constitutional structure financed by the Russian Federation. Raivis Dzintars, chair of NA, actually talked about an attempted coup. In the event the Security Police did not find any grounds to proceed and refused to initiate a criminal investigation.[16]

However, there are indications that the question posed by the PNR might not be categorically dismissed by all. Latvia’s president Andris Bērziņš, already at the time the Non-Citizens’ Congress was created, conceded that the question of non-citizenship is indeed a problem, and a priority for the country in 2013.[17] Although he remained vague about the details of a possible solution and the specific role the non-citizens’ organization could play in it, this definitely encouraged the Congress to look for a breakthrough by increasing the pressure on the question of non-citizens. The president’s attention to this issue might also have played a role in the fact that members of the Non-Citizens’ Congress were invited to take part in the discussions about the slow pace of naturalization held by the parliamentary committee for the unification of society. While no solution to the problem was found in those meetings, the mere fact that members of the Non-Citizens’ Congress were invited to take part in it increased their legitimacy as representatives of the non-citizens. Perhaps more importantly, this also means that there is room for discussing and renegotiating at least some of the issues related to citizenship and civil rights.

For its part, Harmony Center has been observing the activities of the Non-Citizens’ Congress with interest. After the PNR elections, Harmony Center’s parliamentary leader Jānis Urbanovičs, in no uncertain terms, declared that the elections’ turnout was a success in mobilization and poses questions that cannot be ignored. He also declared his unconditional support for non-citizens’ local voting rights. As for his assessment of the government’s reaction, he is quoted as saying that the government’s position to refuse any dialogue with the PNR is “very stupid”.[18] Moreover, although still only unofficially, Harmony Center expressed interest in the PNR’s proposal to include non-citizens’ representatives in local committees.[19] However, not all NPR members agree on the role Harmony Center is playing in Latvian politics, and not all agree that as a party Harmony Center really cares about the non-citizens or effectively represents the Russian-speakers of Latvia. Indeed, some see Harmony Center’s moderation on minority-related issues and its readiness to compromise as a sign that their only goal is to enter government, even if that means diluting even more their representation of Russophone-specific claims.[20] Nevertheless, Harmony Center—if for nothing else then at least for mere political calculus—seems so far the most sympathetic mainstream actor on the political scene for the PNR’s claims. Moreover, Harmony Center’s increasing electoral strength might represent the best chance for those claims eventually to be acted upon.

Latvian ethnic politics at a crossroads?

Looking at these two very different June elections it is clear that the post-ethnic Latvia hailed by Harmony Center/GKR’s members is still far to come. The ethnic card, far from being obsolete, is still used for electoral purposes; and the resistance by the Latvian elite to accept Russian-speaking representatives as legitimate interlocutors and—even more of a taboo—as potential leaders of the country is still very strong. However, this does not mean that nothing is changing.

The debate that is currently taking place within the PNR between a more conciliatory and a more confrontational approach is symptomatic of the structural tensions that are emerging ever more stridently within the Latvian political system. On the one hand, this debate reveals the growing tension between an ethnic-based understanding of the problems of Latvia and the attempt to go beyond that, which can be observed at all levels of Latvian politics. Not only the disagreement among PNR members, but also Harmony Center’s attempt to present itself as a party for national unity against the nationalists’ divisive rhetoric, and the difficulties for Unity and RP to (re)define their identity vis-à-vis Harmony Center and NA, are all expressions of this same tension.

On the other hand, the debate within the PNR reflects different expectations regarding the actual chances the Russian-speaking minority has of having its voice heard within the Latvian political system. Those in the PNR who are for a confrontational approach believe that there is no institutional channel for their claims to be heard, as they either do not trust Harmony Center to be a genuine representative of the Russian-speakers or do not trust that the current governing parties will ever let Harmony Center into the government (or both). Those—apparently the majority—who would rather opt for a more conciliatory approach believe that there are channels for them to influence policy-making. More or less openly, they count on the fact that the Russian-speakers’ fortunes are changing in Latvia’s ethnic debate, not least due to Harmony Center’s rise. These conflicting expectations—on whether the Latvian parties will let go of their monopoly on state power, and on whether Harmony Center will effectively represent Russian-speakers’ interests—clearly illustrate the uncertainty of the political moment, but also its potential for change.


Rabushka, A., and Shepsle, K. A. (1972). Politics in Plural Societies: A Theory of Democratic Instability. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill.


  1. A version of this section appeared in the School of Slavonic and East European Studies Research Blog under the title “Losing Riga – Losing Latvia?”, available online at (last accessed 23 July 2013).
  2. The Latvian electoral system gives voters the possibility to vote for a party list and, additionally, express positive preferences by adding a plus sign beside the names of as many candidates as they want or negative preferences by striking names out. Seats are allocated according to candidates’ aggregated totals of votes for their party list, personal positive preferences, and personal negative preferences (which are detracted).
  3. According to the ethnic outbidding theory, politicised ethnicity has a centrifugal effect on party systems as ethnic parties have an incentive to take an increasingly extremist stance on ethnic issues in order to avoid losing votes to more radical parties (Rabushka and Shepsle, 1972).
  4. The two tend to correspond in Latvia.
  5. For an example from the Latvian-language press see “Politologs: Vienotība uzdāvināja Rīgu Saskaņas Centram” [Political scientist: Unity gave Riga away to Harmony Center], published in the online version of the newspaper Diena on 2 June 2013, last accessed 18 July 2013,; for a similar example from the Latvian Russian-language press see “Etnicheskii Pragmatizm” [Ethinc pragmatism], published in the online version of the newspaper Telegraf on 4 June 2013, last accesses 18 July 2013,
  6. Unity’s campaign video, that aired on the main Latvian state TV channels in the pre-election period, is available at (last accessed 18 June 2013).
  7. Interview with the author, 22 April 2013.
  8. Although they were not eventually included in the governing coalition, Harmony Center was also the party that received the most votes in the last parliamentary elections, in September 2011. 
  9. This referendum initiative was eventually blocked by the Central Electoral Commission, that considered it incomplete and anticonstitutional. The initiators appealed and the Constitutional Court’s decision is still pending.
  10. Interviews with the author, April-June 2013.
  11. Although this split into two groups is of course a simplification—in interviews with the author, PNR members would often mix elements of these ideological and strategic approaches—it helps to reveal the fundamental debate within the PNR.
  12. The text of the “Declaration of the Parliament of the Non-Represented” can be found, in Russian and Latvian, in the Citizens’ Congress official website: (last accessed 25 July 2013).
  13. The text of the “Letter of the Parliament of the Non-Represented to the President, the Saeima, the Ministers’ Cabinet and the local administrations of the Latvian Republic” can be found, in Russian and Latvian, in the Citizens’ Congress official website: (last accessed 25 July 2013).
  14. Komarov expressed this opinion in an interview with the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on 19 June 2013, available in Russian at (last accessed 25 July 2013).
  15. “Negrazhdani stolknuli lbami Pabriksa c Urbanovichem” [On non-citizens Pabriks and Urbanovičs met head-on], appeared on the online version of the Latvian Russian-language newspaper Telegraph on 26 June 2013, available at (last accessed 25 July 2013).
  16. News reported on 9 July 2013 in the daily press digest “Integration Monitor” by the Latvian Centre for Human Rights, available at (last accessed 25 July 2013).
  17. “Delfi v Rige: Prezident Latvii rasskazal, kak emu rabotaetsja v strane, gde 300 tysjach negrazhdan” [Delfi in Riga: the Latvian President tells us how he manages to work in a country with 300,000 non-citizens], appeared on the Estonian Internet portal Delfi on 28 February 2013, available at (last accessed 25 July 2013).
  18. “Urbanovich: problemu negrazhdan ne reshit, poka na eto ne ukazhut SShA i ES” [Urbanovičs: the problem of non-citizens won’t be solved until USA and EU don’t point in that direction], published on the online news portal, available at: (last accessed 25 July 2013).
  19. Interview by the author of a PNR member, 26 June 2013.
  20. This opinion has been expressed by several NRP members in interviews with the author, April–June 2013.
  • by Licia Cianetti

    Licia Cianetti is a PhD student at UCL-SSEES (School of Slavonic and East European Studies) London. Her primary research interests are minorities, democratic representation and power. Her PhD research deals with the political representation of Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia and Estonia and their access to the policy-making process."

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    Sofie Bedford, member of the scientific advisory board, is since 2015 arranging the election coverage.