Latvian Voters Back Dissolution Of Parliament To Combat Oligarchs

Results show that Latvians have overwhelmingly voted in favor of dissolving parliament in a bid to combat the power of oligarch businessmen.

With more than two-thirds of the July 23 referendum vote counted, the Central Election Commission said results showed that nearly 95 percent of voters support the dismissal of the Saeima, or parliament.

The vote now sets the stage for early elections in September — less than a year after the previous elections in October 2010.

Officials said less than 45 percent of the country’s 1.5 million registered voters had cast ballots in the referendum.

The referendum was called amid concerns that wealthy businessmen politicians — known as oligarchs — have too much influence in Latvia because of personal and business links to lawmakers, or because they get elected to parliament.

The Baltic country has been struggling to emerge from a deep recession that has seen economic output drop by nearly one-quarter in the past three years, and led to unemployment of nearly 25 percent. By Radio Free Europe (July 24, 2011)