Monday, September 24, 2007

New speaker of the Saeima elected and KNAB head temporarily suspended from his office

I am on my customary autumn Talsinki voyage again. Had to manage administrative issues in the alma mater, and also went to the lecture delivered by Stephen Krasner in the Finnish Foreign Policy Institute. While I am in Helsinki there was election process going on in the Latvian parliament (Saeima), and rather unexpectedly PM suspended duties of the head of the anti-corruption agency (KNAB), Mr Aleksejs Loskutovs.

Majority (52) of Latvian MP´s in the 100 seat parliament elected its new speker today, after the previous holder of this post (whilst having criminal charges against him) resigned from this position last Friday. Gundars Daudze (Fraction of the Union of Greens and Farmers-ZZS) in addition to the slight support of the coalition parties got 36 NAYS from opposition. There were opposition candidates proposed both from New Era and Reconciliation parties, but both candidatures did not receive any tangible support. Governing coalition is still effective, and regardless of the fact that ZZS proposed prime ministerial candidate is sitting under house arrest, and that former speaker of the parliament is accused in goving false statements to the judiciary, the rubberstamping parliament very much reflect the governance style of the Latvian executive.

It is total disregard to the public opinion that reflects decline of coalition support from the December 2006 45%, to the September 2007 scanty 27% (Latvijas Fakti). Actually, the support of the governing coalition has dipped below the 31% of support for the opposition parties. Such 4 % difference is rather insignificat, however, and more alarming is the number (42%) of undecided voters. This trend is reflected also in Eurobarometer data for quite many years in a row and puts actually Latvia in the same league with Romania and Bulgaria.

I hope that there are advisors of the governing coalition who actually follow these numbers, because otherwise the situation Latvian might get out of the control. The fact that somone in the government follows these numbers is announcement, that later this year there shall be overhaul of the Latvian government. Such overhaul was rumoured already since May 2007. The budget for the 2008 fiscal year shall be accepted in the Saeima and, thus shortly after Independence Day (November 18) new government could be formed, good!

Some of you might be interested who is Mr Gundars Daudze? He is anesteziologist from Ventspils. It creates a rather interesting precedent in Latvian politics, because right at this moment the president, the speaker of the parliamanet, and also Maire of Riga are all doctors. Whilst talking about Mr Daudze, he is not even member of the ZZS, but the pocket party of the Maire of Ventspils, `Latvijai un Ventspilij` that is part of the ZZS fraction in the parliament and run under ZZS name in latest parliamentary elections. The style of governance of the Ventspils maire very much resembles the paternalistic juggling of Godfather, thus there was no dissent allowed in the maire´s pocket party. Mr Daudze was a member of the party board and I am not convinced that the new speaker of the parliament is able to distance himself from Aivars Lembergs.

Most probably also members of the governing coalition understood that and did not want to argue with the ZZS members about such a trivial issue due to the more serious matters at hand - the economy. If new government is in making for the end of this year, then days of Mr Daudze in the office are already limited.

The decision of Aigars Kalvitis to suspend duties of Aleksejs Loskutovs was unexpected. It was long known that there were no amicable relations between those two gentelmen. The decision to suspend his work while prosecutors offfice would research his record in spending public money in his office seems baloney however. I somehow guess that the Kempmayer vs. Latvia court case, resignation of the former speaker of the parliament, and extremely bad state of Latvian economy are intimately interconnected and possibly could lead us to the snap elections. To answer this question I got to go to Riga see the latest party and government ratings and also hear news from prosecutors office. I have an hour left till my ferry leaves, thus I must finish here, and shall update as soon there will be some information out there.

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