Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sic transit gloria mundi

LETA just announced that the PM accepted resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Artis Pabriks after all. Minister of Culture Ms Demakova would be his replacement for now. Last Friday it was the wife of the former PM Kristiāna Lībane-Šķēle who publickly announced that the budget for the next fiscal year is more important than the political future of Mr Kalvītis. I consider these announcements as a sign of quick agony of the present government coalition. Now the only question left is whether the PM shall step down after Wednesday's voting on next year's budget or even earlier?

Mr Kalvītis was uttering the news about offers from campanies after he leaves the office for a month now. Does it mean that Latvian PM would step in the same shoes as Gerhard Shroeder and Goran Persson?

Anyway, the future of incompetent PM is not really at stake in the rapidly changing world. What shall take place next is really at stake here. Latvian constitutional system is solid, but it lacks western liberal values and norms in its political culture. First, after the snap elections there would be the sense of justice returned for the members of civil society in Latvia (because October 2006 elections were stolen from them, and look into the decision of Latvian Supreme Court as of December 6, 2006). After snap elections of the new parliament titanic efforts will be required from the party leaders of the existing opposition and probably newly founded political forces. Namely, it is not enought just to acquire power and promote party political elite, because political parties must be also active in nurturing active civil society through education their electorate, thus preventing collapse of the constitutional democracy! Latvia still struggles with the inertia of post totalitarianism and lack of civic activity, and there is no other way to tackle it that education campigns by the governing elites.

If the events would follow such scenario it would be a very good news not only for the Latvian civil society, but also Latvia's Baltic neighbors and the Baltic Sea area countries. As much the post-Soviet patriarchal elite in Latvia is concerned there is no way they could manage with their traditional governance style any further. Now, when privatiation of country assets is almost over (that enriched famous Latvian A-Team godfathers), and the competitive environment would require them active labours securing Latvia's long term prosperity in the multi-lingual conditions of the EU it is only obvious that the incumbent elite must exit. Advisors, journalists and finally even the US ambassador was reminding the present governing elite, that their value system is wrong. This week there is the time of reckoning and to finish today's blog entry there is no better concluding statement than : "so passes away the vainglory"


m said...

Veik, the problem is that the system is poisoned. The infrastructure (meaning Latvian constitutional system) is fine, but when the water is poisoned, the 100% perfect pipes won't be any use. And the A-Team and friends are the poison.

Even if Kalvitis resigns and forces new Saeima elections, I can't see much of a change. I don't see a "Tusk Revolution" a la Polonie, I see a turnout that will be very apathetically low.

This is how these people take advantage of the infrastructure to earn from corruption.

What Latvia needs is political parties that adhere to a philosophical base, not a personal one (thus an easier genesis for corruption). If there are true liberal, conservative and social democratic forces, they must coalesce -- and have good, honest people to lead them.

All the people, like Kalnins and Lejins and Vinkelis, good people who have constantly criticised but never "jumped into the political pool" need to shut their mouths and jump in fully. It is every good Latvian's responsibility now to weed this poison out.

Or else, in effect, the Singing Revolution has been sold, and the future of young and bright Latvians will be on that long-away Emerald Isle.

T.S. of S. said...

The system is poisoned! This statement is more than true in relation to Latvian politics. Further, I see that political elite and political arena in general are ‘cancerous’. The same applies to the business culture and the society in general. Firstly, there are huge inferiority complexes that rule the psyche of an average Latvian. One is lacking self confident until he or she does not have number of material goods as a proof of a successful individual. These “toys” would be obtained at any cost. After the collapse of the Iron Curtain Latvians had very little, however, the Old Europe had everything that one could dream of. That dream became an objective for the large majority.

Here comes the second point – the Soviet rule taught Latvians how to screw its own system and how to acquire stuff that was taboo or even provoked criminal chares. Those that run the country now have past the “system-screwing-test” with A+. And they are getting better at it. Sadly, many Latvian intellectual minds have chosen not the most legal ways to advance. One may ask, Why? The answer lays in the problem above – to feed the complex of inferiority.

Legally it takes time to feed the craving, but through the system-screwing and corruption the dreams become reality much quicker. And nothing else matters. Not even ones own seemingly shaky chair and publicity. Does Mr. Kalvitis and the rest of his pack care? Not really. And why should they when the judges and the jury are your old schoolmates, business partners, or your regular fishing mates? Who is going to send a valuable asset to do his porridge time in a lock up when it is possible to benefit from him or her? Or who would risk retaliation? Well, you might but the average Latvian knows that better safe than sorry. Moreover he believes that mafia still exists (and probably right to believe so). Does anyone ever questions about the start up capital of so many so called legitimate millionaires? Do recent political affairs in Latvia raise any questions as to why Mr. Aleksejs Loskutovs fell of his chair and someone else fell out of his arrest vehicle [thinking Mr. Edgars Gulbis]?

The above two reasons have left aside one very important tool – long-term strategic planning. No one has time to plan because so much is out for grabs today. European funds are there, tax revenues are there but the mismanagement of funds and greed brigs us down to poor infrastructure and tangled up bureaucracy.

When I hear mismanagement of funds and greed I think collapse of Enron, the American energy giant. It is believed that the corporate culture of greed provoked actions of individuals that latter destroyed this entity and lives of many people. Not to worry about Latvia, though. It will not collapse. At least not yet. The fundamental difference in Enron’s case and Latvia is that people believed promises of Enron’s leaders and suffered as a result of it. In the middle of the Baltic States it is long since people stopped believing political leaders and relying on them selves instead.


Baltic said...

To both authors:

I agree with your analysis, but I would not be overtly critical, because there is always an option of last resort - to simply CANCEL the project Latvia Ltd.:)

First things first, and shall see whether the motion of opposition shall bear fruits this Tuesday? After that I agree, that liberally minded must join the bandwagon, and work to rout the weeds out. It is not easy for Artis to survive in the wolfpack alone, after all:)