Thursday, January 11, 2007

Orange Latvia?

Today the governing People' s Party, Union of Farmers and Greens, The First and Fatherland parties coalition in Latvia failed to reach an agreement on the future ombudsman of Latvia. Whilst following in footsteps of Scandinavian cousins and Estonian brothers the political elite of Latvia had agreed on finally creating institution that would balance off heavy-handed behaviour of the Latvian state. Ombudsman traditionally is a neutral representative of civil society and he/she is made to protect citizens liberties against encrouchements of the state.

There were two candidates proposed. People' s party proposed its party member (!) and jurist with questionable credentials Ringolds Balodis, while Fatherland party designated Dr. Rasma Karklina for this post. It should be said that Ms. Šilde - Karklina is a professor at the University of Illinois and has lately become well known in Central Europe for her latest research on corruption - The system Made me do it Corruption in Post – Communist Societies, Armonk (NY): M.E. Sharpe, 2005. It is customary that Latvian politicians are still lacking public relations skills. However, nobody can repair the blunder of the prime minister Aigars Kalvitis when asked by reporter which candidate for ombudsman institution he supports, he candidly answered, "that he supports Mr. Ringolds Balodis, because he at least is acquinted with him" ...

Today in Latvian parliament (Saeima) both candidates had to go through two rows of election and finally in the third vote Mr Ringolds Balodis failed by 7 votes (44 ayes and 47 nays). Here one may obviously ask whether Peoples party was just testing the ground to know how solid the cioalition government is? Perhaps it is so, and the amendments in the Latvian Law of Security organizations passed with enormous speed (sent out to ministries and security organization on December 29 and passed already on January 8, but it is said that the legal framework for the law can be full prepared till October 2007!!!) in the parliamentary break only attest to that. What else can we expect now? The answer is that till the end of this month the Latvian - Russian border agreement will be discussed in the parliament and I hope that this issue wont become an issue for the popular referendum, because referendum is the victory for demagogues!

Finally, rather curiously in yesterday' s Latvian daily Diena there is obituary to Ms Solita Udrase. Ms Solita Udrase was highly respected psyhiatrist and her obituary is followed by words of condolences by many prominent persons including Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis and the bureau of the PM. God bless her soul and perhaps Mr Kalvitis was her client, but I am wondering why condolences should be signed by the staff of prime minister' s bureau?


p.s. For those not familiar with Latvian domestic politics, orange should not be connoted with the revolutionary colour of Ukraine, but with official colors of the major conservative People' s party instead.

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