Harmony Centre

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Harmony Centre

Saskaņas Centrs
LeaderNils Ušakovs
Founded2005[1]
Dissolved2014
HeadquartersRiga
IdeologySocial democracy[2][3][4][5]
Russian minority politics[5]
Political positionCentre-left to left-wing[6]
European affiliationNone
International affiliationNone
European Parliament groupS&D (SDPS)
GUE/NGL (LSP)
ColoursRed, White
Website
http://www.saskanascentrs.lv

Harmony Centre (Latvian: Saskaņas Centrs, SC; Russian: Центр Cогласия, ЦC) was a social-democratic[2][3][4][5] political alliance in Latvia. It originally consisted of five political parties: the National Harmony Party, the Socialist Party of Latvia, New Centre, the Daugavpils City Party, and the Social Democratic Party. Through a series of mergers they were eventually reduced to two: Social Democratic Party "Harmony" and the Socialist Party.

Ideologically a catch-all grouping of centre-left and left wing parties, the alliance also aimed to represent the interests of Russians in Latvia.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Founded on 9 July 2005[1], Harmony Centre emerged from For Human Rights in a United Latvia, an electoral alliance formed by the National Harmony Party[7], the Socialist Party and Equal Rights, that partially dissolved in 2003. Equal Rights represented the interests of the Russian minority and the Russian language in Latvia. The National Harmony Party, New Centre and the Daugavpils City Party joined at foundation, the Socialist Party in December 2005 and the Social Democratic Party in January 2009.[8] The alliance aimed to consolidate the Latvian centre-left and promote Latvian-Russian amity. The first chairman was the head of New Centre Sergey Dolgopolov[1] who was replaced in Autumn 2005 by Channel One Russia Journalist Nils Ušakovs.

In 2010 and 2011 the National Harmony Party, New Centre, Social Democratic Party and Daugavpils City Party merged to form the Social Democratic Party "Harmony", which continued in alliance with the Socialist Party until 2014.

In its nine years of existence, Harmony Centre became the most popular political force in the Latvian Parliament but remained in opposition. Various positions on Latvia's National Question, citizenship law and close relations with United Russia, perceived by the centre-right as incompatible with Latvian national interests, led to the alliance being excluded from government.[9] In 2014 Harmony and the Socialist Party participated separately in the European election of that year.

Election results[edit]

Parliament (Saeima)[edit]

Election year # of
votes
% of
votes
# of seats won +/− Notes
2006 130,887 14.5
17 / 100
Increase 17
2010 251,397 26.61
29 / 100
Increase 12
2011 259,930 28.36
31 / 100
Increase 2
2014 209,887 23.00
24 / 100
Decrease 7

European Parliament[edit]

Election year # of votes % of votes # of overall seats won +/− Notes
2009 154,894 19.57
2 / 8
Increase 2

Political positions[edit]

Social democracy, progressive income taxation, minority rights, participatory democracy, internationalisation of higher education, good relations with Russia. Economically, Harmony Centre supported increased social spending, in order to boost the economy and increase general welfare.[original research?]

On the occupation of Latvia[edit]

Both chairman of "Harmony Centre's" Parliamentary faction Jānis Urbanovičs and leader of the alliance Nils Ušakovs have rejected calling Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 an "occupation", arguing that from an international perspective it was an "annexation" instead, because Kārlis Ulmanis actively collaborated with Soviet representatives in Latvia, and compared recognizing occupation of Latvia to repressions against the society. However, they admitted that, "If it had been clearly stated already at the very beginning that recognizing the fact would in no way harm people who immigrated during the Soviet times, Harmony Center would agree to recognize even ten such occupations."[10]

Ušakovs has emphasized that "no doubt Latvia was forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union and it was followed by brutal Stalinist regime crimes against Latvia and its people", but also believed it's important to say that Soviet regime ended when the then-Russian Federation’s army left the country, claiming that otherwise certain politic forces could bring up "de-occupation" again.[11] Later Urbanovičs summarized similarly: "there were occupations in Latvia, there are no occupants".[12] Both of them have also proposed to postpone the debate on national and historical issues and focus on the economic and social problems instead.[13]

However, MP from Harmony Centre Boris Tsilevitch has pointed out that no official documents testify Harmony Centre recognizing the occupation.[14] MEP from Harmony Centre and chairman of the Socialist Party of Latvia, one of the parties making up Harmony Centre, Alfrēds Rubiks, on the other hand, has declared that he has never recognized Latvia’s occupation and never will, because he believes the country "was not occupied by the Soviet Union".[15]

On the Ukrainian crisis[edit]

Urbanovičs blamed the Ukrainian crisis on what he believed were "West's efforts to sabotage Russian plans for a Eurasian Customs Union" and called Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation "a desperate measure on the part of Russia in order to prevent economic and military imbalance in the contact zone of Southeastern Europe between NATO and Russia", citing the precedent of Abrene County as a partial justification.[16]

Ušakovs has said he fully supports Ukrainian territorial integrity, “including Crimea”[17], but doesn't want to analize who's to blame for what happened in Ukraine and called for an international investigation.[18] He also criticised EU sanctions against Russia as ineffective and damaging for the Latvian economy.[19][20] On March 4, 2014, 28 of Harmony Centre deputees voted against a resolution of the Saeima that strongly condemned Russia's military involvement and aggression in Ukraine.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Left-wing Russian parties form alliance in Latvia". The Baltic Times. July 11, 2005. Retrieved June 2, 2007.
  2. ^ a b José M. Magone (17 December 2014). Routledge Handbook of European Politics. Routledge. p. 526. ISBN 978-1-317-62836-1.
  3. ^ a b Sten Berglund (1 April 2013). The Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 100–. ISBN 978-1-78254-588-0.
  4. ^ a b Hans Slomp (2011). Europe, a Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics. ABC-CLIO. p. 531–. ISBN 978-0-313-39181-1.
  5. ^ a b c Nordsieck, Wolfram (2011). "Latvia". Parties and Elections in Europe. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  6. ^ Foundation Schuman (7 April 2011). Schuman Report on Europe: State of the Union 2011. Springer. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-2-8178-0222-0.
  7. ^ Eglitis, Aaron (July 13, 2005). "Harmony Center makes political debut". The Baltic Times. Retrieved June 2, 2007.
  8. ^ "Social Democratic Party in Latvia to join Harmony Center". The Baltic Course. January 19, 2009. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  9. ^ Schwirtz, Michael (September 18, 2011). "Latvian Election Shows Gains for Pro-Russia Party". The New York Times. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  10. ^ "Urbanovich and Ushakov agree upon issues as another national language and occupation". Baltic News Network. September 13, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  11. ^ "Ushakov: Harmony Center fears de-occupation coming to light again". Baltic News Network. September 9, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  12. ^ "Urbanovics: there have been occupations, but no occupants". Baltic News Network. October 3, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  13. ^ "Usakovs says postpone debate". The Baltic Times. August 3, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  14. ^ "Cilevich: no documents say Harmony Center recognizes occupation". Baltic News Network. October 20, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  15. ^ "Latvija in brief - 2011-08-04". The Baltic Times. August 3, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  16. ^ "Harmony leader: Ukraine crisis is West's attempt to break Russia". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. August 25, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  17. ^ Walker, Shaun (December 26, 2014). "Riga mayor: 'I'm a Russian-speaking Latvian and patriot of my country'". The Guardian. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  18. ^ "Ušakovs calls Russians to calm down their Latvian neighbours; Crimea has to stay in Ukraine" (in Latvian). Delfi. May 12, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  19. ^ Macdonald, Alastair; Krūtaine, Aija (January 9, 2015). "Leader of Latvia's Russian-speakers fears sanctions backfiring". Reuters. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  20. ^ "Ušakovs: EU sanctions against Russia a failure". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. December 26, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  21. ^ "Latvia's Saeima strongly condemns Russia's military aggression in Ukraine". The Baltic Course. March 6, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2013.

External links[edit]