Latvia: Almost 95 per cent of voters so far support dissolving parliament
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Latvia: Almost 95 per cent of voters so far support dissolving parliament

Rīga : Latvia | Jul 23, 2011 at 5:43 PM PDT
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Latvia votes in historic referendum

The referendum was a move by the former president to stop corruption. Valdis Zatlers used his powers to dissolve the parliament but the decision must be supported in a referendum.

With more than 57 per cent of ballots counted, 94.8 per cent of voters supported the legislature's dissolution, according to Central Election Commission. The election commission chair said:"Overall voter participation in the referendum was good,"The referendum will lead to a snap election in September.

This was the first such referendum since the Baltic country of 2.2 million people broke away from the Soviet Union 20 years ago.Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said he voted for sacking the legislature, the Saeima, since a new election would be an "opportunity to ensure that forces supporting the rule-of-law would have a majority"

Zatlers was angered that MPs had blocked an anti-corruption probe involving top legislators and businessmen. Zatlers then lost his re-election bid when legislators - who in Latvia elect the president every four years - opted for challenger Andris Berzins, a millionaire lawmaker.

On the eve of the election Zatlers said: "I got fed up of living in a country ruled by lies, cynicism and greed"."I have opened the door to change. Now it is up to you to step through it and feel that you can take control of your own destiny,"

Obviously many Latvians share Zatlers' concerns that wealthy businessmen-politicians, or oligarchs, have too much influence in politics through their personal and business links with legislators, or by getting into the parliament themselves. THe situation is made even worse by the fact that Latvia is emerging from a deep recession that over three years cut nearly one-fourth of economic output.

In December 2008 the European Union and the International Monetary Fund rescued the country from bankruptcy, but the aid did little to alleviate widespread discontent as the government slashed spending and raised taxes as has happened in other debt ridden countries

Unemployment eventually reached almost 25 per cent. Thousands of Latvians left the country to find work in Sweden, Britain and Ireland. At least now Latvians may be able to elect a parliament that better represents their interests.

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The referendum was called for in May in a move by the former president to stop corruption and dissolve parliament.
northsunm32 is based in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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