In this day of reckoning I was heading back from Tallinn this morning and streams of cars were heading to the Fishermen's festivities (Zvejnieku svētki)* in Salacgrīva. It made me cautious about the ability to collect 455000 votes to dissalow quick steering of dilapidated Ms Latvia into murky lands of typical post-Soviet anemie. Now it is 23:23 local time and there is still no news about the end result of the referendum, but it seems that the final score would be short of about 10000 votes. There are Messrss Arnis Kaktiņš, Kārlis Leiškalns (TP) and Mrs Solvita Āboltiņa (JL) in the Latvian TV direct emission now, and the incumbent PM is having his incomprehensive contemplations on the telephone, whilst I am writing this piece into my blog.
While coming back from Tallinn, Estonian countryside reminded me about the fact that Estonia bypasses Latvia in terms of countryside development of about 3-5 years (just compare the almost non existent number of asbestos roofs in Estonia). Agricultural sector is struggling in both states, but there is budget surplus in Estonia since 2001. Thus, there are budget allocations for alleviation of social depression in the Estonian countryside. And why is there budget surplus in Estonia? I am coming back to the , AYE, AYE, the same rule of property and tax declaration system that was introduced in Estonia back (!!!) in 1991. Such system still does not exist in Latvia, and it is still a root cause of the political infighting in Latvia. To put it simply, while there is no mandatory tax declaration system Latvian public is not informed about the basics of the capitalist economic system. Therefore, how come Latvian citizens could keep their public servants&politicians accountable, if they have no clue how their taxes are even collected (remember, that only holders of the public office are obliged to fill out annual tax reports)! I must come back to this discussion a bit later, but right at this moment the fact is, that members of the Latvian post-soviet elite are doing their utmost to secure their posh economic wellbeing prior implementation of the mandatory tax reporting system on January 1, 2008 (at least PM promised that the system shall be introduced that day).
The 300 000 voters who came to the election booths during this sunny day were courageous enough. Preliminary results show that barely 5 % of the public were against the stipulations in the law of the security organizations. Those who were against were perhaps mislead by the question appearing on the election bulletin that was hyper-complicated to the most people I talked to. I am pleased to learn that out of the active part of the demos (about 906 000 voters who appeared at the booths during last parliamentary elections) there are about 30 % of the society who showed their dissatisfaction with the cynical behaviour of the governing coalition. Aye, the result is what it is now (about 330 000 AYE's), but I must come back to the basics of the problem again later (on Sunday:).
Lack of the electors turnout during the summer time means that the timing of referendum was not good at all. The referendum date was decided by the Central Election Bureau, and, show me a government that gives up their power without a fight! In the meantime the existing situation reminds me about the reality, that there are always two two make a tango. Even thou referendum did not pass, it would be strategically very unwise for the government to underestimate dissatisfaction of the 30 % of the very active part of the Latvian society. Vox populi vox dei........and summer time should be spent in preparations for the worst scenario - thus Baltics PREPARE FOR THE AUTUMN!!
In September energy taxes that rose prior the summer should be reflected in increased inflation rate, food prices, and utility bills. Also, subsidized rents for tenants apartments were abolished prior the summer, and when the fall sets in tenants should start to learn about sharply increased rate of their bills. The health of the international economy is not the best one, and after a summer long party I expect a long lasting economic and political hangover in Latvia.
After all, most of those German, Japanese and French new car leasing rates would become hard to bear and probably next year participants of the Fishermen Fest should consider bying a bus ticket or not going to the fest at all....
* Fishermen FEST has its roots in the traditional lifestyle of this hard working profession. The summit of the fishermen festivities were during the Soviet occupation, when fishermen collective farms were hyper-rich in comparison with other sectors of the Soviet agriulture. Thus, they were able to afford excesses of Byzantium like bakhanalias that lasted for many days in a row.