Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Signatures, lack of legitimacy and candidates

Yesterday the Latvian Central Election Bureau announced that 70% (110 000 signatures) of the 149068 signatures needed for initating the popular referendum are allready collected. It seems that the civil society exists in this country and next Wednesday I shall probably need to pop into the barbershop (watch my previous entries:-). Yesterday' s " Kas notiek Latvijā" TV show explicitly showed, that the travails of governing coalition lack credibility due to the simple disregard of the major governance pronciple of the modern liberal democracy - acceptance of the minority existence and involvement of arguments in the parliamentary debate.

We must speak about the inertia of the Soviet totalitarian rule here, when pluralism of opinions did not simply exist. Therefore, any democratic majority in Latvia so far simply considered that their ideas and decisions are omnipresent, and, must be accepted without serious discussion within framework of a parliamentary debate. I can give an example from the Salaspils town council where I am elected as a representative. There are discussions about myriad of issues in standing committees, but as an opposition member of the council I never know how hidden the agenda to be discussed is? Then in the council meeting there is no tradition of the dabate, and, in case there is any opposition against ideas proposed by the maire of the town it is simply squashed by rude demagoguery in a one man show fashion.

Not really demagoguery but incompetency was presented in the Latvian TV evening news by the incumbent Minister of Education, Ms Baiba Rivža. Her performance was simply unacceptable to her stature, and she did not even try to defend herself as a politician. It seems that some Latvian MP's are simply living in a bubble, and still act as if there is some mysterious Godfather later cleaning up the mess of their "missadventures". Her explanantion about the real situation in the education sector, "impossible payrise", and outright rejection of the teachers decision to strike during the end of the school year examination time made me to conclude that either Ms Rivža is incompetent, or she has simply concluded that her government has lost the last bits of legitimacy. Latvian PM, Aigars Kalvītis still tries to position himself as a man in charge, but more and more the Latvian government seems like a little boat that is washed into the stormy sea with the boyish captain at the rudder.

In the meantime one candidate after another has announced that they would not run for the Latvian presidency. Andris Piebalgs, Žanete Ozoliņa, Georgs Andrejevs, and Ivars Lācis announced that they would not agree on running for the presidential post, and yesterday also incumbent Minister of Foreign Affairs Artis Pabriks announced that he would not run for the president under the present terms.

It seems that the regrouping of the governing elite in Latvia takes place in earnest. Peoples Party (TP) chooses their candidate for the president between Māris Ruiekstiņš and Aigars Štokenbergs this weekend. According to overwhelming opinion of the opposition parties both candidates are not up to the merit of being able to consolidate warring faction in the Latvian Saeima. Shall see who is going to be able to perform this task in this interregnum in Latvia? In any case, if signatures are collected, then according to Latvian Constitution referendum should take place no earlier than one month after the closing date of the signatures collection (May 3), and no later than two months after that date. The head of the Election Bureau, Artis Cimdars said that the referendum most probably should take place in July 7, 2007. It is a symbolic date, the last day of the Latvian incumbent president Vaira Vīķe Freiberga in the office.

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