Russia-Leaning Party Expected to Place First in Latvia Elections

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HELSINKI (AP) – Polls have opened in Latvia, where a party catering to the Baltic nation’s large ethnic-Russian minority is expected to place first in a parliamentary election.

Voters are choosing from a field of more than 1,400 candidates and 16 parties Saturday to fill Latvia’s 100-seat parliament, or Saeima.

Latvian public broadcaster LSM’s latest poll had the left-leaning Harmony party favoured by ethnic-Russians securing the greatest share of the vote, 17.2 percent.

Members of the minority account for about 25 percent of Latvia’s 2 million people, a legacy of nearly 50 years of Soviet occupation that ended in 1991. The country now is a NATO member.

The poll had Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis’ centrist Union of Greens and Farmers in second place, with 9.4 percent.

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