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Latvia election results: pro-Russia party wins most votes, say exit polls

Exit polls show a pro-Russia party, the Harmony Center, set to win an election in Latvia.

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(Antler)

A pro-Russia party is set to win a snap general election in Latvia, according to exit polls released Saturday.

This would be the first time in 20 years that a party with Russian sympathies has won a general election, the Associated Press reports.

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"Since 1991, when Latvia restored its independence from the Soviet Union, no party catering to the country’s ethnic Russian minority has been included in government, a streak that ethnic Russians — who make up one-third of Latvia’s 2.2 million people — hope to change," it states.

Two polls show the Harmony Center party winning nearly 29 percent of votes, reports AP. The ruling Unity party as well as a close ally, Zatlers' Reform Party, each likely won approximately 19-20 percent of the votes, according to the polls.

BBC reports that the two parties, wary of the Russian connection, will likely create a coalition to keep the Harmony Center out of power.

The snap election came after a high-level corruption crisis in Latvia.

An economic downturn in Latvia also cast a shadow over the elections, Al Jazeera reports. The country now faces high unemployment, big deficits and emigration to other European countries.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/110917/latvia-election-results-harmony-center