When the preliminary electoral results came in the evening of 17 September, two things were rather clear. First, the Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs, SC) seems to be the winner of the extraordinary parliamentary elections in Latvia. Second, the so-called oligarch parties have suffered a humiliating defeat.
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The 2011 election will differ from the previous elections in two important ways: First, there is a real likelihood for a change in government with Social Democratic leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt taking over as prime minister. Second, the campaign so far has been dominated by debates about the state of the economy while immigration and health care, the major themes of the three previous campaigns, have played only a minor role.
Populist temptation has always haunted Latvia. Not less now, when voters are struggling to recover from Europe´s deepest GDP-fall. “People want change”, says professor Runcis who fears that Zatlers can not deliver that, and so distrust of politicians might grow. The political scientist is worried about the ex-presidents lack of competence in the economic field, and he is critical of Zatler´s political ambitions.
The referendum on dissolution of Saeima will be held on 23 July and it seems that the voters might support Zatlers’ motion to dissolve Saeima. According to the internet poll by TNS Latvia, 84 % of the respondents replied that they would vote for dissolution, while only 4 % would vote against. If Saeima is dissolved, the parliamentary elections will be held no later than 23 September 2011.
On 5 June, 2011, Macedonia held its 7th parliamentary election since the post-communist transition began in 1990. The ruling conservative party, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity, scored another victory. Political conflicts in Macedonia has eclipsed tension within the Albanian community, which represents a reversal of long-standing patterns of electoral politics in the country.
A number of representatives of the opposition in Belarus participated in a seminar “The Way Forward for Belarus”. The seminar addressed such issues as the difficulties experienced by the opposition in working for democracy and human rights in Belarus and what the outside world can do to support their work.
The Finnish Parliamentary elections of, which were held on April 17, resulted in a dramatic victory for a populist party, the True Finns, which increased its representation from 4 to 39 seats, and a big defeat for the Center Party of Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi. The leader of the National Coalition Party, which despite losing six seats, Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen is expected to form the new government.
The Finnish version of populism is known in the vernacular as “Vennamoism,” after the colorful founder and long-time leader of the Finnish Rural Party, Veikko Vennamo. Although Finnish populism has been pronounced dead over and over again, it has always managed to rise again and reinvent itself. The high polling numbers of the True Finns in the lead-up to the forthcoming Finnish general election in April indicate that populism in Finland is once again making a comeback as a political force to reckon with.
2011 elections in Estonia is a distinct indication of a political development in very much the right direction. The government coalition did ´deliver´ to the voters, and in a relation of reciprocity, the voters delivered back.
In a joint proclamation, signed by ten organizations, the democratic opposition in Belarus now urges the EU not to negotiate on anything with the regime in Minsk other than the immediate release of all political prisoners, including the four presidential candidates who are still imprisoned and threatened with long-term prison sentences.