Friday, July 20, 2007

New president chooses his team

Last Sunday I gave an interview to the Baltic Times ( where I expressed my thoughts about the new president. Talis Saule Archeadon made a good work and the only minor glitch in the interview is the term "night period", which in reality was thought as knight period (read...former Estonian president Arnold Ryytel translates as knight in Estonian, and he followed Lennart Meri's presidency, thus such term in Estonia:). My agument in an interview was that, if the new president wants to become an independent policy maker, then he must brake out from the circle of the governing coalition. Today the news came out that Normunds Beļskis (48, People's Party), who was assigned as his advisor prior his innauguration ceremony, would become member of his team in order to facilitate coordination of information between different government institutions, yet it was stipulated that he would not be chancellary staff member. Mr Zatlers already has his press secretary, Ms Inta Lase who can pretty well communicate with the "outer world" including other government institutions. Therefore, the legitimate question here is, whether it is a tactical manouver of the incumbent president and his chief of staff, Mr Stiprais in order to make everybody happy at the initial stage, is it thought that the snook is harmless, or president was giving in to the reprimands of the governing coalition?

Another designated member of the presidential team is the future security advisor, Mr Raimonds Rožkalns (50) has a rich history behind him. He is a former head of the security police, the post he had to leave after the alleged scandal linking him with the Soviet security services in 1996. During the high time of privatization (during the mid 1990's) charges were pretty much fabricated against anyone who was trying to make some sense in the murky post-soviet politics. After this scandal he worked in the Latvian Intelligence Agency (Satversmes Aizsardzības Birojs), becoming even an acting head of the agency in 2003, until after 2005 he became the Latvian representative in the NATO. There is not much information about the spooky world "out here", thus even more interesting piece for investigative journalists.


KT said...

how noticeable is presidential team in Lativa at all? As you know, in Russia the role of this team is remarkable, in Estonia hardly visible.

Baltic said...

Latvian president has barely as much power as in Estonia. The difference between LAT & EST is in the fact that while Estonian president is elected with 2/3 of the parliamentary majority, Latvian counterpart needs only single majority (51 votes out of 100), to be elected. This is exatly what happened with V.Zatlers being elected, and this is why opposition is fuming:) The independent presidential position in Latvia is advisable since the governing coalition preferres corporate governance style, and in case president has no independent team and only playes lip-service to the government, then it is worrisome for the very srvical of democracy in Latvia. Jut lok on the latest Eurobarometer results, where support for government, parliament and president has fallen to the all time low, and only ROM&BUL have worse results than LAT... . To compare EST is totally in different league with political culture and support for governing institutions closer to Scandinavia:)

KT said...

tiny remark .. in EST president should be elected by 2/3 of pariament ... but actually he is elected by electoral assembly (made up of Parliament plus members of local governments) also by 50%+1

but you knew it, didnt you:)

Baltic said...

to KT:

Correct remark indeed, but while Estonia has amalgamated French & German constitutional practices, Latvia blatantly follows just the German single majority one (even though its not Bundestag, but Federal convent that elects Bundespräsident). Aye, in recent history Estonian presidential elections have gone into electoral college, however, its more democratic than single parliamentary majority electing their buddy (with RATHER questionable credentials) as the president of the whole country:(