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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 October 2006, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Latvian coalition retains power
Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis
Aigars Kalvitis has promised to build closer relations with the West
Latvia's governing coalition has become the first administration to win re-election since it became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Final results from the general election give the coalition, led by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, just enough seats to form a parliamentary majority.

The three-party governing bloc won 51 of the 100 seats in parliament.

Saturday's election was the first since Latvia joined the European Union and Nato two years ago.

The prime minister's People's Party led the poll with 23 seats, while coalition partners the Union of Greens and Farmers won 18 seats and the First Party won 10 seats.

The centre and moderacy seem to be the order of the day in these elections
Latvian President
Vaira Vike-Freiberga

Liberal opposition party New Era won 18 seats and the recently-formed Harmony Centre party won 17 seats.

"I'm ready to continue to lead the government," Mr Kalvitis told AFP news agency, adding that the governing coalition would meet on Monday to discuss whether to invite any other parties to join.

'A positive change'

The BBC's Laura Sheeter in Riga says the close result and low voter turnout are being seen as a sign that Latvian politics are becoming more stable, with few extreme parties or crucial issues dividing the electorate.

The turnout was just over 60% - a record low compared with the last election in 2002, when the turnout was more than 71%.

The Latvian President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, said the result was a positive change: "The centre and moderacy seem to be the order of the day in these elections."

Latvia has had 12 different governments in the 15 years since it regained its independence from the Soviet Union.

Latvia is the EU's poorest country but it also the fastest-growing economy. Mr Kalvitis promised to continue close relations with the West if victorious.

Country profile: Latvia
27 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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