Europe

Latvia's ruling centre-right coalition wins elections

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Media captionPrime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis: ''Voters have voted for stability and rejected populism''

Latvia's centre-right government has been returned to power for a third term, near-complete results show.

They suggest that the coalition led by Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis won 63 seats in the 100-member parliament of the Baltic nation.

His government has pushed through some of the toughest austerity measures in Europe, backed by the IMF and aimed at preparing the country to join the euro.

They include wage cuts averaging 30% at a time when unemployment stands at 20%.

Mr Dombrovskis' supporters began celebrating a short time after the polls closed on Saturday evening, says the BBC's Damian McGuinness in Riga.

Deep recession

With all votes counted in Latvia and a small number left from voters abroad, Mr Dombrovskis's coalition secured 63 seats in parliament.

The estimate gave the left-wing opposition Harmony Centre - which draws its support from Lativa's Russian-speaking minority - 29 seats.

Presenting itself as a social-democratic alternative, Harmony Centre campaigned against the austerity measures.

Image caption Mr Dombrovskis' coalition looks set to have a majority for the first time

"Voters have sent a quite clear message that they prefer stability and continuity," Mr Dombrovskis told the BBC late on Saturday.

"There had been several parties calling to scrap (the) international loan programme, for scrapping the economic stabilisation programme, promising all kinds of wonders. But we see that voters were not really buying it."

On Sunday, Mr Dombrovskis said he and the the second-largest coalition partner, the Union of Greens and Farmers, had already agreed to continue working together.

Mr Dombrovskis was due later to meet with the third current coalition partner - the nationalist For Fatherland and Freedom movement.

Since 2008 Latvia has endured one of the worst recessions in the European Union.

Investors see Mr Dombrovskis as the main guarantor of an austerity deal that included a 7.5bn euros ($10bn) bail-out led by the International Monetary Fund and the EU.

Mr Dombrovskis, who is also aiming to adopt the euro as the national currency in 2014, took over as prime minister when the crisis was at its worst in 2009.

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