Latvia's pro-Russian party Harmony, regularly the biggest party but never in government, looks set to top polls again in Saturday's general election, but pro-Europe parties registered strong gains, an exit poll suggested. And the New Conservative Party is running on a strong anti-corruption platform but has struggled to gain voter support.
After casting his ballot, President Raimonds Vejonis from the Green Party called on fellow Latvians to come to the polls, pointing to the Brexit vote as an example of what might happen if they didn't. "We have to be ready to do it and it is very realistic", he said.
A pro-Russia party is poised to evict Latvia's western-friendly government and take power in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state.
Harmony is popular with Latvia's ethnic Russian minority which makes up about a quarter of the country's 1.9-million population.
But this time could be different.
Latvia, like Lithuania and Estonia, neighbouring, was granted independence in 1918, after the fall of the empire of the czars.
But it was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, and then by the Soviet Union for almost half a century until 1991.
Una Bergmane, a teaching fellow in global history at the London School of Economics, said it is unlikely the party will be able to team up with Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis' Union of Greens and Farmers, which polls suggest could come second.
The ruling three-party government coalition fared poorly despite having improved the country's economy, which was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis. Then the parliament will approve the new cabinet of ministers. "This is where the populism finds its niche", says the political scientist Filips Rajevskis.
"Therefore there's the possibility of a Russia-oriented coalition after the election".
Voters are choosing from a field of more than 1,400 candidates and 16 parties Saturday to fill Latvia's 100-seat parliament, or Saeima.
The National Alliance is expected to win 13.
New Unity received 6.67 percent of the votes.
This potential partner, the party KPV LV, led by former actor Artuss Kaimins, would come second according to some polls that the credit of a dozen seats. "They can form a coalition among themselves", he told Reuters. Political analyst Marcis Bendiks said Harmony's campaign promise to cut defence spending to one percent of GDP went against North Atlantic Treaty Organisation agreements.
Dissatisfaction with Latvian politicians, widely seen as corrupt and inefficient, has seen the parties in Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis' coalition lose voters to KPV LV, a party that has promised a fresh and more efficient government.