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IHT: Latvia's coalition government takes majority in parliamentary elections

RIGA, Latvia Latvia's ruling coalition narrowly managed to win enough seats to form a majority government in the Baltic state's general elections, the Central Election Commission said Sunday.

Led by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, the three-party coalition won 51 seats in the Saeima, or parliament -- six more seats than it currently has. It is the first time in Latvia that a sitting government has maintained its grip on power since the country broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Latvia has had 12 governments in 15 years of independence.

The fractured opposition took the remaining 49 seats, with the right-wing New Era party, a bitter rival of Kalvitis' People's Party, mustering 18 seats, and the Harmony Center, a left-wing force that represents Latvia's large ethnic Russian minority, received 17 seats.

The election was the country's first since joining the European Union and NATO in 2004.

With all votes counted, the center-right three-party coalition gathered 44.8 percent, according to results posted on the electoral commission's Web site.

Kalvitis' People's Party finished first with 19.5 percent of the vote, ahead of coalition partner the Greens and Farmers Union with 16.7 percent. The third coalition party, Latvia's First, was in fifth place with 8.6 percent, the results showed.

by Fran on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 07:57:58 AM EST
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