EU elections in Latvia: elderberry syrup and Boney M.

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Written By Maya Cantina

The liberal party Kustiba Par! (Movement For!) promotes Ukraine’s integration into the West. Your EU candidate is Ukrainian with a Belgian passport.

A man holds his son in his arms as he throws the ballot into the ballot box

Voting in Riga on Saturday Photo: Ints Kalnins/rtr

RIGA taz | After all: 33.77 percent. This value represents the official turnout in Latvia, where the European elections took place on Saturday. Election posters were nowhere to be seen in the capital Riga the day before, because by law they must be removed two days before the election.

In general, the rules are strict: there are a few selected places where posters, for example on street lamps, are not allowed; In general, parties pay for their advertising with donations. As a rule, this also means: the smaller the lot, the fewer advertising options.

Latvia is participating in the European Parliament elections for the fifth time. The country has been part of the EU since 2004. Nine of the total of 720 EU representatives were elected here, and 16 parties nominated candidates. Competition for mandates is therefore relatively high. It will take some creativity to win a mandate in Brussels.

The pro-European liberal party Kustiba Par! (in German: Movement For!) has nominated the Ukrainian Ivanna Volochii, who lives in Belgium, as the top candidate for the European elections. The 42-year-old from Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine has dual Ukrainian and Belgian citizenship and is the first Ukrainian to be nominated as a candidate in the EU Parliament elections. She is well versed in politics; Volochii has been working in European institutions for seventeen years.

Surprise the voters

“Droša Latvija, Brīvā Ukraina, Viena Eiropa” (Safe Latvia, Free Ukraine, One Europe”) – this is the slogan of the small party, which was founded only in 2017 and won the five percent of votes in the last Latvian parliamentary elections on October 1, 2022. obstacle failed. At the evening election party in Spinati un Sviests (Spinach and Butter), a small bar in Riga’s Old Town, party director Miks Celmiņš explains how the Ukrainian top candidate came about.

“We wanted to surprise Latvians with a new, exciting idea. The party has made supporting Ukraine’s accession to the EU and NATO a key goal of its European policy agenda. And because most of our 500 party members since the beginning of the major Russian attack on Ukraine “If we want to engage in solidarity, for example in helping refugees, the idea of ​​a Ukrainian candidate was obvious.”

However, Ivanna does not expect any great opportunities. But her candidacy alone, as a representative of 40 million Ukrainians, is a sign of hope for Ukraine, a candidate for EU membership.

In any case, the atmosphere in ‘Spinati en Sviests’ is exuberant. There are vegetable sticks and cheese sticks, elderberry syrup and wine. Dancing to Boney M. and Latvian hits. As in the rest of Europe, the election results will not be announced until Sunday evening.

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