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Latvians Vote in Early Elections


A woman casts in her ballot paper during the early parliament elections at a pooling station in Jaunmarupe, Latvia, September 17, 2011.

A woman casts in her ballot paper during the early parliament elections at a pooling station in Jaunmarupe, Latvia, September 17, 2011.

Latvians are voting Saturday in early parliamentary elections that will decide whether the ruling center right party stays in power in the tiny Baltic state.

Recent opinion polls show the center left leaning, pro-Russian Harmony Center party ahead of the ruling business-backed Unity party and anti-corruption Reform party.

However, no party is expected to gain an outright majority in the legislature, leading to possible discussion of a coalition.

Harmony Center is traditionally backed by Latvia's large Russian minority. It has not been part of any Latvian government since the end of Soviet rule in 1991.

The Unity party is led by Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis and the Reform Party, which was founded by former president Valdis Zatlers.

While still in office, Zatlers triggered the election after he dissolved the legislature for not backing a corruption probe of a businessman.

Zatlers lost his re-election bid, but voters supported his decision to form a new legislature by passing a referendum.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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