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Latvia: New Era Party Finishes First In Poll

Riga, 6 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Preliminary results indicate the New Era party finished first in yesterday's parliamentary elections in Latvia. Latvia's Central Election Commission says latest results show New Era has won 23.5 percent of the votes with the For Human Rights in a United Latvia second with 18.8 percent. United Latvia has often spoken on behalf of the sizeable Russian minority in Latvia. The People's Party was third at 16.6 percent.

New Era is led by former central banker Einars Repse, who is expected to try to form a new center-right coalition government to replace the current one.

Repse had denounced what he called an inefficient and corrupt state system. He called for a new generation of leaders, lean government and tax cuts to keep Latvia moving forward.

Latvia expects to join the European Union in 2004 and to get an invitation to enter NATO at an alliance summit next month in Prague. Meanwhile, preliminary results are expected today from yesterday's general elections in Bosnia.

The poll was the first election solely organized by Bosnian authorities without direct involvement from the international community. The outcome of the poll is seen as crucial to the country's political and economic reform efforts.

The Bosnian Election Commission said the poll met basic democratic standards. Voter turnout was reported at 55 percent, the lowest since the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war. Analysts say the turnout reflects widespread voter discontent with politicians in Bosnia.

Voters chose deputies for the state parliament and the parliaments of the Muslim-Croat federation and Republika Srpska, the two entities which comprise Bosnia.

They also voted for a Muslim, a Serbian, and a Croatian member for the three-way interethnic state presidency, a Republika Srpska president and assemblies for 10 cantons in the Muslim-Croat federation. Voters chose among 57 political parties and more than 7,500 candidates at various levels.

The leader of Bosnia's main multiethnic party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), predicted Bosnia will again have a reformist alliance. SDP leader Zlatko Lagumdzija said Muslim, Croatian, and Serbian nationalist parties, which led the country into war in 1992, will again be unable to have a majority.

But the nationalist Serb Democratic Party (SDS), founded by alleged war criminal Radovan Karadzic, said it expects to keep its dominance in parliament in Republika Srpska, the Serb-run entity.