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Latvia's center-right government wins majority

Latvians voted in a crucial parliamentary election on Saturday handing incumbent Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovski's center-right government an election victory, as the country suffers the effects of a deep recession.

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Voters opted for government stability

Latvia's center-right government has won a majority in the country's 100-member parliament in Saturday's election, polling around 59 percent of the vote. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis's Unity movement polled around 33 percent.

Valdis Dombrovskis

Prime Minister Dombrovskis is leading an austerity drive

Dombrovskis said he would talk to his coalition partners about forming a majority government on Sunday.

An exit poll for the Leta news agency gave the coalition 62 percent support compared to 21 percent for the Moscow-tied left-wing Harmony Center.

The polls were the Baltic state's first elections since it was plunged into one of the worst recessions in the world. Final results are to be announced on Sunday afternoon.

The election was seen as a major test for 39-year-old Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, who is leading an austerity drive as the country attempts to address its economic woes.

However, early polls also indicated that the left-wing Harmony Center - backed mainly by Latvia's Russian-speaking minority, – appears to have made a strong showing.

Smaller parties set to hold power balance

Prior to the elections, fears have been expressed that Harmony Center, could steer Latvia away from NATO and the European Union, both of which it joined in 2004. The party's leadership denied this.

Dombrovskis has been in office since March 2009, after the collapse of a previous center-right coalition. Since then, he has dramatically cut public spending and raised taxes as part of a 7.5-billion bailout package from the EU and International Monetary Fund.

Author: Nigel Tandy, Richard Connor (dpa/AFP/AP)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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