What will the next Latvian government look like?

The latest parliamentary elections in Latvia took place on the 6th of October this year. Up until now the parties which managed to pass the threshold of 5% of the electoral votes and get into parliament are negotiating the structure of the new government. The Baltic country is torn between the Western and Eastern worlds; it is seeing the rise of nationalist and populist views. How will the future policies of Latvia look like?

The political landscape of Latvia is very dynamic: two of the parties represented in the parliament elected in 2014, For Latvia from the Heart (No sirds Latvijai) and the Latvian Association of Regions (Latvijas Reģionu apvienība), could not enter the new parliament in 2018, with the former not running for the elections and the latter falling behind the 5% threshold. At the same time three new political forces, New Conservative Party (Jaunā konservatīvā partija / JKP), liberal Movement For! (Kustība Par! / Par) and right-leaning Who owns the state? (Kam pieder valsts?/ KPV), won a higher support than any of the parties from the current governing coalition.

At the same time, the status of the parties that steadily participate in the political process has undergone significant changes. Unity (Vienotība / JV), the party that was empowered to form the government after 2014 elections, has lost electoral support considerably and showed the lowest results among parties that managed to secure seats in the new parliament of 2018. The Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo unZemnieku Savienība / ZZS) also suffers from a lack of trust: it was a member of the governing coalitions in most of the previously negotiated governments and is seen as being too flexible in choosing political allies, as well as blamed for corruption and inefficiency. The National Alliance (Nacionālāapvienība/ NA) and the pro-Russian Harmony (Saskaņa) have also lost a number of seats in parliament.

Furthermore, Saskana is not considered “coalitionable” by several other parties due to its pro-Russian stance. Well before the election, NA declared that it “will never support or join a government that involves” Harmony. The same is expected from JV and the JKP, which have many times publicly denounced the possibility of a coalition with Saskana. 

Currently, the parties are negotiating the structure and the head of the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers, with members of the JKP and KPV being the major candidates for the Prime Minister post. Based on the outcomes from the October election, and on the public commitments mentioned above, our analysis produces the following results.

Observe that all minimal winning coalitions (those that reach a majority with no redundant members) involve 4 partners, and must include both JKP and KPV.  

Furthermore, the most stable coalitions (according to the conditional Shapley value) in addition to JKP and KPV include either Par or ZZS (but not both), and either NA or JV (but not both).

If we based our forecast solely on the information available at the time of the election we could then conclude that either JKP or KPV is expected to lead the formation of the new government. Of those two parties, one would likely secure the prime minister seat (in our calculation we assume its worth to be roughly equivalent to 1/3 of the other ministerial seats) and three ministerial seats, with the other obtaining seven seats. Either NA or JV is expected to receive approximately two ministerial seats. Finally, Par or ZZS may expect to secure one seat.

It is worth mentioning that this type of power distribution would make it unlikely that Par could be interested in joining the coalition. The party has secured a notable level of electoral support and most likely would not be willing to invest its political capital in a government with such little level of influence. Therefore, based on the information at the time of the election the most likely governing coalition would appear to consist of JKP, KPV, ZZS, and either NA or JV depending on the negotiated agreement.

After the election, as the negotiation process among the Latvian parties started to unfold, several further public commitments (often falling short of official party policy) were made. In particular, several KPV representatives have publicly stated that they will not support a coalition with Saskana. Furthermore, KPV and JKP have signaled their reluctance to form a coalition with ZZS, blaming it for the shortcomings of the “old” political establishment.

If we also include those post-election announcements in our analysis, we obtain the following results.

Observe that now there are just three minimal winning coalitions (none of them involving ZZS), and they all appear equally stable.

In all three of those possible coalitions JKP and KPV are expected to receive an equal share of power,  with one of them obtaining the prime minister seat and two additional seats, and the other securing six seats. 

The remaining two coalition partners (chosen among NA, Par, and JV) are expected to share the remaining five ministerial seats.

Among the three predicted coalitions we consider the one composed of JKP, KPV, NA, and JV as politically most viable, as the parties included are closer to each other in terms of their overall agenda. By contrast, any coalition that includes both JKP and Par would likely carry higher internal tensions within the governing coalition.

Share your opinion with us!

Upcoming parliamentary elections in 2019

Next year there will be many exciting elections around the world that we would like to follow. Here is a list of upcoming parliamentary elections in 2019, taken from Wikipedia:

Projections on seats, coalitions and ministry assignment for the 2017 German federal election

The projections below are obtained using current poll data taken from INSA/YouGov.  Based on poll data, we predict:

  • the number of seats for each party (above the 5% cut-off)
  • all minimal winning coalitions
  • all stable coalitions (according to the conditional Shapley value: see http://)
  • for each stable coalition, the proportion of ministries received by all member parties.

The first column of output data after the party names shows the predicted fraction of the total vote according to current poll data. The second column shows the predicted number of seats to each party, while the third column shows how much strategic “strength” (measured by the Shapley value, and interpreted as fraction of the total weighted number of available ministry positions) each party expects before any coalition talks, disregarding ideological propensity or aversion towards other potential coalition partners.
The remaining lines of output list all minimal winning coalitions, and all coalitions which are stable with respect to the conditional Shapley value. One can see from the output that there are 11 minimal winning coalitions, in that in each such coalition all members are needed in order to achieve a majority. Out of those 11 minimal winning coalitions there are four which in addition are also stable with respect to the conditional Shapley value. That means that, if all parties formulate their expectations according the conditional Shapley value, then there are no expected profitable deviations which could lead the members of a different winning coalition to assemble together. (One normally speaks about stable coalition structures, but in majority games we can simply denote a stable structure by its minimal winning coalition.)
Yet, the four stable coalitions (BCDE, BCDF, BCEF, and BDEF) are all unrealistic in that they would involve parties that are ideologically very different, and moreover would violate explicit campaign promises. If we exclude all those coalitions forbidden by official party policy, namely, all those including F, and all those including both D and E, then the resulting stable coalitions (according to the conditional Shapley value) are ACD (“Jamaica”), and ACE. 

The predicted proportion of ministries for a party in a given coalition is given by the Shapley value times the stability coefficient. Hence, if coalition AB forms, party B would receive 20% of (60/49), which is just below 25% of the ministry positions, while A would receive the remaining 75%. By contrast, if coalition ACD forms party A would receive 61.67% of (30/23), which is around 80% of ministry positions; party C would receive 11.67% times the same coefficient, which is about 15% of ministries; and party D would receive the remaining 5%.Comparing the current scenario with the situation after the 2013 election, the results can be summarized as follows. Let us stipulate that a Chancellor position is roughly worth five ministries, so that a total of 20 ministerial positions must be assigned to coalition partners.In 2013, in the absence of the FDP as a potential coalition partner, the CDU/CSU conceded six ministries (about one third of the total) to the SPD in order to form the ‘Grand Coalition’ AB. Today, based on current poll data the SPD would still expect to receive five ministries (25% of the total) in order to form a Grand Coalition with the CDU/CSU. But now that the FDP is once again above the 5% cut-off, and hence available as a coalition partner, the CDU/CSU can also form coalition ACD by offering three ministries to the Green (15% of the total) and one to the FDP (5% of the total).

Note that, despite the existence of a winning coalition BCE, in which the SPD would have expected one third of the ministerial positions, the SPD decided to accept the same one-third share in a Grand Coalition with the CDU/CSU. This suggests that the decision of the SPD was also motivated by a desire to second, rather than counteract, the large shift of votes to the right that the 2013 election had brought up by positioning itself as member of a centrist, rather than left-wing, coalition. From its side, the CDU/CSU preferred to offer one extra ministry (six rather than five) to the SPD in order to make the AB coalition stable, and hence remove any potential threat of being excluded from the government in case the BCE coalition would form.