18 Sep 2011

Snap poll won by pro-Russia party

1:26 pm on 18 September 2011

A pro-Russia party won the most votes in a snap general election in Latvia on Saturday, but fell short of an absolute majority.

Officials said the Harmony Centre won 31% of the vote.

The new Zatlers Reform Party won 19% and the Unity bloc of Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis took 17%.

The BBC reports they are likely to form a coalition to keep Harmony Centre out of the government.

Analysts say the parties are wary of its ties with Russian leaders.

The vote was triggered by a corruption crisis involving powerful business people.

Latvia (population 2.2 million} regained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. About a third of the people are Russian speakers.