Sunday, July 8, 2007

Oblivion in the post-soviet welfare society

Regardless of the numerous signals about a sick state of the Latvian economy (look just into the latest BICEPS report by Alf Vanags and Morten Hansen or latest synopsis of Edward Lucas in The Economist), majority of Latvian citizens (about 1 million eligible voters) feel satisfied enough and seem to be oblivious about the sorry state of their economia (houshold in Greek language). Current and trade account deficit, inflation rate, stalling economic growth and outpouring workforce are just the most visible data about the sorry performance of the delapidated Ms Latvia. Today, the new president would be oficially sworn into the office, and, that sets in the Latvian "knightly period" (knight translates as ryytel in Estonian) to paraphrase my good friend Mel's expression. In Estonia Lennart Meri established a rather high professional and moral standart for the Estonian presidency, thus the follow up presidency was simply classified as period of Arnold Ryytel. Similarly to its Northern cousin Vaira Vīķe Freiberga established high moral and profesional standards for Lavian presidency. The new president faces titanic task in order to match the previous record, and it will not be an easy task for Valdis Zatlers to consolidate the society where the 30 percent (323 000 people) are not happy about the sorry state of their houshold, and the rest of 70 percent (one million) are ignorant in their petit burgueois oblivion and led by the narrow group of smug manipulators.

The semi-official result of the yesterday's referendum voter turnout is 323479 persons. It is a good result considering that it was a bright and sunny summer day and shows that civil society exists in Latvia. The most active voters were in Vidzeme and Riga metropolitan area whereas the least active were in Latgale. In Ireland and the UK, where allegedly about 100 000 Latvian citizens reside, the turnout was about 200. The conclusion thus is, that the Latvian Irish and the UK contingent has left home very much due to the inability of the Latvian government to ensure their humane development. Adds in the www and radio were only in Latvian, thus native Russian electorate was not addressed at all. Just to compare the 9. Seaima parliamentary elections turnout with the yesterday's referendum one may notice, that the number of dissatisfaction in the society is growing, if one considers that referendum turnout is higher than voter turnout for opposition parties during latest parliamentary elections. Jaunais Laiks (JL) (148602), Saskaņas Centrs (SC) (130887) are opposition parties and together they got about 280000 votes. SC traditional voters reside in Latgale and Riga. It is hard to say, now whether SC electorate was active in Riga or not, but at least all is clear about Latgale. Thus, very robust analysis shows that probably some voters who voted in parliamentary elections for the governing coalition (Tautas Partja (TP) got 177481 and ZZS 151595) showed their dissatisfaction with the bahaviour of the government yesterday. Aye, also the votes of parties that did not overcome the 5% threshold (LSDSP-31725, Visu Latvijai-13469, Jaunie Demokrāti-11505, Pensionāru kop-7157, Eiroskeptķi-3365 =circa 67 000) were divided between other parties that overcame the threshold, and they most probably were among the 323 000 participants in the referendum. vox populi vox dei...and life still goes on after the referendum. Therefore, the question is why the oblivion of the majority of the society persists, and how to develop further in the situation where Kremlin hawks incresingly rattle their sabres, and the US is still bogged down in Iraq and Apghanistan?

The answer to the first part of the question is rather obvious - majority of the Latvian electorate are not educated about the basic principles of self-government in liberal democracy. Together with Dr. Axel Reetz we have investigated reasons for this phenomena and you may read it in German in Aktuelle Probleme postsozialistischer Laender Das Beispiel Lettland (Verlag Wilhelm Surbir, Wittenbach/SG:2007)Axel Reetz (Hrsg.) or in Latvian (Ilgas pēc nevainīgas politikas) in However, there are such trivial issues we did not even investigate, and they are cheating at school, at university and to oneself. When person is not sure about him/herself it tries to find several excuses not to face the real facts. Such lying to oneself is endemic in Latvian schools and universities. For several years Latvian Examination Test Centre cannot prevent test information leaking prior the highschool final exams. There were complaints of graduates from the Riga 1. Gymnasium last year, but to no avail, the Minister of Education is indispensable. Average or outright bad students get good grades at the final examination, and they are whopped into universities. Cheating continues there as well, and overstreched staff tries to promote the best minds while mostly burdened with comparing latvianized essays with the English ones in Such half-baked underachievers find their way through the traditional networks of the Latvian society, and the result is that those who cheat believe that everyone does the same, thus promoting the culture of cheating. Thus, the legitimate question now is, for how long can such society that openly preferres vices to virtues carry on like this? I believe not too long.

To answer the second part of the question one must analyse what is going on in the international arena. Russia prepares to go to the State Duma election spectacle at the end of this year and the new Russian president would be elected on March 2008. There will be elections in the US next year as well. Russia has its strategic interests in the Baltic states and they never hid it plus Latvia is the weakest link among the Baltic sisters. The US power is overstreched and supporting weak and corrupt members of the Coalition of Willing cannot continue indefinetly. In order to stand independent in the changing world there must be an orderly situation at home, thus society would be proud about their leadership and easily follow it in order to face the upcoming challenges. Society that does not trust its leadership has no future and ancient Greek struggles between democratic Athens and oligarchic Sparta serves as a very good example here. What do we have at home in Latvia???? You know the answer:-)


Jānis Bērziņš said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jānis Bērziņš said...

Nice text Veiko. About the fact that "Cheating continues there as well, and overstreched staff tries to promote the best minds while mostly burdened with comparing latvianized essays with the English ones in", this is the victory of the mediocrity. No doubt, depend on us to change this absurd.

Baltic said...

Jānis, here comes quick Latvian translation:)

Pirmajā naktī viņi ierodas nemanot,
mūsu dārzā nočiepjot vienu puķi,
mums nebilstot ne vārda!

Otrajā naktī viņi nāk neslapstoties, un sabradā mūsu puķes, un nogalina mūsu suni.

Un mēs joprojām nesakam ne vārda.
Līdz vienā dienā tas visvārgākais no viņiem vientuļi ieslīdēja mūsu namā un nolaupīja mums mūsu gaismu
Bet zinot mūsu bailes, viņs nolaupīja mūsu balsis tā, ka mēs vairs nespējam pat dvest ne vārda.

Na primeira noite eles se aproximam e roubam uma flor
do nosso jardim.

E não dizemos nada.
Na segunda noite, já não se escondem;pisam as flores,
matam nosso cão, e não dizemos nada.

Até que um dia, o mais frágil deles
entra sozinho em nossa casa, rouba-nos a luz, e, conhecendo nosso medo, arranca-nos a voz da garganta. E já não podemos dizer nada.

Jānis Bērziņš said...

Tulkošana ir ļoti pareiza! Esmu priecīgs šī dzeja Tev patika. Lai gan viņa ir par represiju Brazīlijas militāra laikā, es uztvēru viņa ir ļoti aktuāla mūsu postmoderna vienaldzīgā sabiedrībā.

KT said...

is there any explanation why adds were only on latvian ... i mean - official explanation?

Baltic said...

To kt:

If I understod you correctly you ask whether referendum ads were only in Latvian? The answer is rather simple, the official language in Latvia is latvian. If some parties want to use the Russian electorate then they can do it on their wn initiative, but in the referendum case there was no wish of the parties to use the russophone electorate at all:)

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