Latvia: Latvians went to the polls today, as the Baltic nation emerges from a savage economic slump, with polls showing the Moscow-tied left being poised for big gains.
The general election was a crucial test for 39-year-old Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis -- Europe`s youngest government head -- who has brought in deep spending
cuts and tax hikes to stick to the terms of an international bailout for the Baltic state.
Polls were to close at 8:00 pm (1700 GMT).
Dombrovskis struck a confident tone after casting his ballot, noting surveys showed his minority coalition could win a majority with around 60 seats in the 100-member parliament, up from its current 47.
In a pre-election interview with AFP, Dombrovskis dubbed the vote a watershed.
"Will we continue and successfully conclude the Latvian economic stabilisation programme or will we turn back to uncertainty and economic instability? I think that`s the
key issue," he said.
The European Union nation of 2.2 million, whose double-digit growth of the past decade seems a lifetime ago, has inched into recovery this year. In a working-class district of the capital Riga, a 65-year-old woman who only gave her name as Daina, told AFP she backed Dombrovskis`s Unity movement.
“I voted for them because Dombrovskis works well," she said, noting that she still had a job despite passing retirement age. Grocery store assistant Inga, 45, was a grudging
supporter. "I`m not happy with them, but I don`t see an alternative," she said.
Juris Vaicunas, 63, said that as in previous elections, he picked the nationalist For Fatherland and Freedom movement, a coalition member.