Latvia is holding its first election since suffering the worst recession in the European Union.
Opinion polls show centre-right Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis has a chance of forming a new administration. But the main Russian minority party could also enter the government – for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Popular anger at a tough IMF-EU bailout could help the opposition but few believe Riga will renege on the deal.
“My feeling here is that there is not really any alternative to the current plan with the IMF and the European Union, and therefore, there is a little bit of talk because of the elections coming up, but at the end of the day, nobody really wants to touch that plan,” said Morten Hansen, an economist with the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga.
Latvia saw a drop in economic output of 18 per cent last year, with unemployment soaring to record highs. Austerity measures have been passed but while the economy has started to show some signs of recovery, tough budget decisions still lie ahead.