Monday, November 5, 2007

After Saturday mass rally budget still to be passed?

The mass rally is happily over. My apprehension about the rally turning out to be only ethnic Latvian fest was groundless. Actually, I was happy to see the leader of the Reconciliation Centre (SC) Nils Ušakovs being in the rally with other members of his party. It means that the dissatisfaction of the society is running accross socio-economic as well as different ethic layers of society. I saw also the New Era (JL) party flags mixing with the multitude of Latvian maroon-white-maroons, Russian military St Andrews, one Estonian, and one Bulgarian tricoleurs. Those of you willing to see the 8000 or about persons event may have a glimpse of it in the following address - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OBA9MWvUEs&NR=1

There were several speeches and while translating those to the correspondent of the Helsingin Sanomat I realized, that only those of the businessman Edgars Štelmahers and writer Laima Muktupāvela were structured and spiritually elating. Many speakers of little known NGO's were unexperienced, and several members of the intelligentsia tried to bring memories of the late 1980's back or simply used the traditional East European anarchistic attitude against the governing elite (Andra Neiburga in particular). I had to leave the rally early and moderate the MA student seminar. I managed to be in time for the seminar and municipal police did not even fine my overstayed parking limit, so, either mass rallies or bad weather make policemen more humane:)

The rally is over and considering the bad weather I reckon that 8000 demonstrators was an impressive number indeed. Whilst talking to the rally participants I realized that the dissatisfaction with the style of governance does not actually diminish but only increases. The funniest comment I heard from an old man whilst standing in the queue for signing for the constitutional amendments propsed by the Trade Unions. The old man rather omenously sighed: ''we thought that it will be a long haule to get the Soviet army out, but alas, its even harder to get rid of the corrupt elite of your own''. And the only thing I could retort to the old man was, that we do not choose our own relatives, they just are there...

Events in Riga were transmitted also through the major TV channels. I was told that CNN was having a newsreel and I personally saw BBC coverage. I did not have a time to check other media channels, but I gave several interviews to Estonian press (http://www.postimees.ee/051107/esileht/valisuudised/293510.php
& http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/406559). Most hectic time at the university is getting over and most probably I shall write something for Estonian and Finnish media starting from the next week. Also we have blueprint ready for the articles about the contents of the political discourse in Latvia with my colleague Dr. Axel Reetz.

Several ideas for research articles depend now from events inside and in front of the Saeima this Thursday. It should be the 2008 budget passed in the second reading, and the life of the existing government very much depends on it. It is at least how it is understood by most of liberal media, opposition parties, even some members of the coalition government (head of the fraction Augusts Brigmanis (ZZS), head of the fraction Māris Kučisnskis (TP)) and the president himself!

The PM announcement on November 5, 2007 just after return from the United States was .....you guessed right...unchanged - he would not resign from the office until he has not finished his good tasks!

While answering to the journalist's question, that even president Zatlers has such opinion (meaning that he should honourably resign after passing the budget) the PM retorted that he has not heard such announcement from the president, and asked the media to stop fruitless speculations and better start working. Right upon his return from accross the Atlantic the PM openly scolded the head of the KNAB as if nothing had happened in between, reminding the fairytale: `` and ever since we live happily in peace ever after... The PM considers as the most important good works the Russian-Latvian border agreement, the territorail administrative reform, and the Lattelecom privatisation. Utterly suspicious seem the tasks if you want to seriously judge the work of the present government. Those of you willing to follow the busy work of our PM in more humorous atmosphere can easily look at the sketch in - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18sX84v61PM

The budget should be passed the coming Thursday. Nobody really knows today whether it is possible (meaning what the governing coalition plan really is, and whether the cracks in once solid structure have widened?), particularly after such announcement of the PM on Monday (051107). It is hard to predict rational moves now, because the PM has painted himself into the corner. All demands of the opposition for amendments of the next year's budget were declined, thus the opposition should be voting NO. Trade unions already announced their dissatisfaction with the first Latvian post-independence buget with the fiscal surplus, because the surplus if formed while scrapping social benefits. And all this during the time when labour is hemorragheing out of Latvia and the PM has announced austerity measures.

Lack of coherence in the government's work is endemic. Nothing is being expected out of the purposeless and free riding government. In the meantime the Latvian Employer's Confederation (LDDK) appealed not to create new schemas by secretely privatizing the only official publisher of the government's and parliamentary decrees - ''Latvijas Vēstnesis''. LDDK is worried that about LVL3 mlj could be wasted in support of unnecessary government intervention in a situation when market participants could simply fullfill the tasks. So, instead of austerity measures and other tasks the PM still has appetite for shady deals. Funny indeed, and the question is for how long it can carry on like this? I believe that such governance is not just against good European governance principles but that it is also irrational. However, for members of the Latvian government it seems that the dissapearance of grey matter from their brains has destroyed the last bits of rationality...

P.S. Good news were received from Fürstentum Lichtenstein because Vaduz Court presented Mr Lembergs and his son charges about money laundering. This week barrister Mr Mārtiņš Kvēps from AS Ventbunkers should announce official announcement about the ringleaders of AS Ventspils Nafta making the insider deal with the Dutch/Russian Vittol group prior privatization last year. It is rumoured that about USD 15 mlj were laundered through Vaduz bank back to Latvia in order to buy Latvian ministers and MP's. When this information should become public it could start causing tremors of the entire Latvian political edifice.

Interesting, what else the incumbent president needs to make up his mind and initiate the dissolution of the parliament?

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