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Yearbook 2002

Latvia. For the fourth election in a row, a newly formed party became the largest in the Latvian parliament. New times, led by former central bank governor Einars Repse, received strong support during this year's election campaign for its campaign against widespread corruption. Repse forced the party's candidates to take oaths that they were free from foam deals. New times also advocated a liberal economic policy with tax cuts, while the party left the left on social issues and the right with a nationalist flavor.

2002 Latvia

Just before the election, the tripartite government was thrown into an open conflict between Prime Minister Andris Berzin's Liberal Center Party Latvia and the Conservative coalition partner Folk Party. Police arrested two leading members of the Latvian Road and accused them of distributing election leaflets that blamed popular party candidates. Prime Minister Berzins claimed that it was all a plot against Latvia's path led by the People's Party of the Interior, which was therefore dismissed.

According to Countryaah website, the disintegrating coalition lost big in the elections. Latvia's road did not reach up to 5% of the vote and thus fell out of Parliament. New times became the winner of the elections and took 26 of the 100 seats. In second place with 24 seats came the Left Alliance for Human Rights in a united Latvia, which mainly represents the Russian-speaking minority. The People's Party received 21 seats, the League of Green and Agrarian 12, Christian Party Latvia's first party 10 and the right-wing nationalist Fosterland and freedom 7 seats.

Einars Repse formed a coalition government with New Times, the League of Green and Agrarian, Latvia's first party and Fosterland and freedom. The Road of Latvia and the People's Party, which has long dominated the country's politics, were thus placed without influence.

The first task of the new government was to complete preparations for NATO and EU membership. At the NATO summit in Prague in November, Latvia was invited as a new member of the military alliance in 2004, together with Estonia and Lithuania. Einars Repse stated that NATO membership would guarantee Latvia independence "forever". Earlier in the year, the Latvian Parliament had met NATO's demand for milder language laws for the Russian minority. The condition of knowledge of Latvian for candidates in political elections had been abolished. In this way, NATO wanted to soften up the Russian resistance to Latvian NATO membership.

Latvia's negotiations with the EU were finalized in the autumn and at the EU summit in Copenhagen in December, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and seven other countries were accepted as new members of the Union as of 2004. But first, EU membership must be approved in a referendum, which for Latvia's part is implemented in 2003.

Strong macroeconomic growth continued during the year, while the gaps between the city and the countryside were evident. In eastern Latvia the unemployment rate was high and in rural areas further deterioration and closed farms were feared when Latvian agriculture is to be included in EU agricultural policy and must compete in the same market as the rest of Europe but with less support.

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