Exit poll presents pro-Kremlin party on 19.4%, with a pro-EU, pro-Nato party in second with 13.4%

The pro-Kremlin Harmony party appeared set to hold the balance of power in Latvia, following a general election on Saturday, with an exit poll showing it topping the vote ahead of liberals.

A public TV exit poll showed Harmony had a 19.4% election share, while the liberal pro-EU, pro-Nato For Development was in second place with 13.4%, ahead of the rightwing National Alliance on 12.6%.

Populists, who could help Harmony form a alliance, followed closely behind. The New Conservative party was on 12.4% and KPV LV indicated 11.5%.

The Greens and Farmers Union of the prime minister, Maris Kucinskis, managed 9.7%.

” No coalition combination is possible without Harmony that would appear able and stable ,” the Harmony chairman and Riga mayor, Nils Usakovs, told the Leta agency.” Otherwise, you could have a coalition of xenophobes and lesbian rights advocates, and such a government would stick together for two or three weeks .”

Popular with Latvia's ethnic Russian minority, which constructs up about a quarter of the country's 1.9 million population, Harmony, formerly allied with United Russia, the party of the president, Vladimir Putin, won the largest number of elections in the past three elections. However, it never entered government as it failed to attract alliance partners.

The final results of the vote are expected early on Sunday, with alliance talks to follow while the current parliament maintains working until November.

The vote was tarnished by a hacker attack on the Draugiem.lv social network, second in popularity merely to Facebook in the Baltic state, which displayed a pro-Russian message.

” Comrades Latvians, this concerns you. The perimeters of Russia have no end ,” it said in Russian, followed by images of unmarked Russian soldiers in green uniforms annexing Crimea, Russian tanks parading in Moscow and a smirking Putin.

Turnout in the vote was 53.99%, according to the election website.

Analysts predicted Harmony, which has signed on some high-profile ethnic Latvians as their frontrunners, might join forces with populists to govern.

KPV LV, a populist party led by former stage performer Artuss Kaimins, is a potential coalition partner.

And the party's candidate for prime minister, lawyer Aldis Gobzems, recently suggested they were open to working with other parties.

” KPV LV can work with anybody, we don't have any red lines considering any other political force-out ,” Gobzems said during a TV24 debate.

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