Latvia. Since Latvia's crisis economy turned upwards in
2010, growth accelerated in 2011. In the first half of
Latvia, GDP grew by over 4%, and in the third quarter the
figure was over 6%.
But the economic recovery was disturbed by growing
corruption. When Knab's anti-corruption agency made over 40
raids in May against the country's three powerful so-called
oligarchs, a political crisis was triggered. Parliament
refused to lift the immunity of one of the oligarchs, who
were parliamentarians, and a house search was stopped.
President Valdis Zatlers then decided to dissolve Parliament
and announce new elections on the grounds that the elected
officials were under the influence of corruption-suspected
Countryaah official site, Zatler's resignation came just a week before Parliament
was to appoint a new president. Zatlers were voted out by
the elected officials, and in June the new parliamentarian
was elected Andris Bērziņš, who got 53 votes to 41 for the
Zatlers. The election outcome was a setback for the
government that supported Zatler's candidacy.
In July, a referendum was held on the presidential
decision to dissolve Parliament. Over 94% of voters
supported the resignation of Zatler at the time, and a new
election to Parliament was announced in September. Zatlers
took advantage of its newfound popularity and stood in the
election with a newly formed middle-right party. His stated
goal was to break the power of the oligarchs in politics.
But Zatler's party was also a challenge to Prime Minister
Valdis Dombrovski's Party Unit, as they competed for the
same electoral base.
Thus, the opposition party Harmonicentern, which denotes
itself Social Democratic, could win the election. The
Harmonic Center received just over 28% of the vote, Zatler's
Reform Party gained just under 21% and Unity, which lost
many voters, stayed at just under 19%. The Latvian
Nationalist National Alliance rose strongly to close to 14%,
while the oligarch-influenced Party of the Greens and
Peasants' Association declined and gained just over 12%. The
oligarchs were weakened by the decline of the Greens by
another oligarch dissolving their party and by a third being
knocked out of Parliament in the election.
Zatlers wanted to create the first government in Latvia
where a party dominated by Russian-speaking voters and
politicians - the Harmonic Center - participated, but he did
not get a majority for it. After difficult negotiations,
therefore, Zatler's Reform Party merged with the Unity and
the National Alliance in a coalition where Dombrovskis
became prime minister. The new government took office in
October and was supported by 56 of Parliament's 100 members.
In November, Latvia's Savings Bank went bankrupt, since
its principal owner Vladimir Antonov was suspected of
embezzling the equivalent of SEK 1.3 billion of the bank's
funds. Despite the banking crisis, the government was able
to end Latvia's three-year loan program with the IMF in