Union of Greens and Farmers

Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS). Like other groups in Latvia, the Union of Greens and Farmers is in reality an electoral alliance of two parties, though unlike others they have never attempted a merger. The Latvian Farmers’ Union and the Green Party of Latvia have been allied since 2002.

Agrarian and green issues have often been seen as one and the same in Latvia, where there is a preference for small farming, which is seen as more environmentally friendly.

The ZZS is a broadly centrist party, with populist instincts. While it includes a Green Party, the Latvian Greens are actually rather conservative in comparison to Western European counterparts. The Green Party of Latvia did provide the first Green Prime Minister in the world, however.

The party is the last standing example of Latvia’s oligarch connected parties. The party’s long-running lead figure and chief financial supporter is Aivars Lemberg, an oligarch who has been Mayor of Ventspils since 1988.

Lemberg has faced a series of accusations of bribery, money laundering and abuse of office in recent years. ZZS’s connections to corruption led to it being frozen out of government after 2011, but it is now in the national unity government formed earlier this year.

The ZZS is a softly Eurosceptic alliance. The party has never managed to elect a MEP, (principally due to poor timing in the electoral cycle), but is currently polling well, presumably due to its position, until recently, as the only ethnic Latvian party in opposition.

The Green Party is a member of the European Green Party. If it elects a MEP it is likely that they will find themselves to be rather different to their fellow group members. The Farmer’s Union is not a member of any European political party. It is probably most similar to the Nordic agrarian parties which sit in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

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