Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The PM nominee announced... this Friday?

Incumbent president has had discussions with three PM candidates. After the meeting in the Riga Castle it is still no clear whether there is one favourite. The only candidate and a friend of incumbent president from his youth, Mr Ivars Godmanis announced that he considers himself as a back-up prospect in this race. Probably it is not bluffing from his part, but while skimming through all the candidates 100 days in the office programmes it becomes clear that the People's Party candidate is dragging his feet behind two physicists. Also, and somewhat surprisingly, the mandatory income and property declaration law has been taken by the New Era MP Kārlis Šadurskis, and it seems that the majority of MP's are finally agreeing that this long due law could finally be passed, thus ending the basis for tax evasion and legal nihilism in Latvia.

Mr Ivars Godmanis is very scrupulous in his program and his ideas do not differ very much Valdis Dombrovskis ones. Both candidates underline the need to reform antiquated tax code, strenghten the position of Corruption Fighting Agency (KNAB), establish macroeconomic discipline and reconsider decision of the former government to built national library, concert hall and museum of modern art regardless of the reigning economic climate.

The program of Edgars Zalāns is short but lacks substance in questions about the rule of law and economics. Thus, while reading the program of Mr Zalāns I consider his overconfidence as a best example of TP bluffing. In addition Mr Zalāns had a fall - out with local media when giving interview to the yellow press. In Privātā Dzīve he announced that he resolutely refrains from reading Latvian newspapers and considers the TV LIVE Kas notiek Latvijā? show as a citadel of negativism, thus, in principle downgrading the value of political debates. It has caused a huge media attention to the present Minister of Regional Affairs (Mr Zalāns), and has revealed unpreparedness of the PM candidate.

The announcement of Kārlis Šadurskis (JL) that the mandatory income and property declaration law could be voted into law is the BEST news so far in Latvia. Already former PM announced in March 2007, that this law should be passed prior January 1, 2008, but about two months ago the head of the Saeima budget committee postponed this law indefinitely after the KNAB saga started. To those of you who follow this blog I want to remind that Latvia is among very few continental European states where people are not required to declare what their own or what are their real incomes. Entrepreneurs and state officials are obviously reprimanded to declare their property and incomes, but when the system is not mandatory it gives a chance to evade them. In addition, when broad layers of society do not know about the income declaration they are not socialised into being full fledling citizens. Thus the latter simply want nothing to do with the state and following the totalitarian tradition want to evade any obligations vis-a-vis the state as much as possible. This is one of the major problems of fledling civic society in Latvia, because people disassociate themselves from the state.

If this law would be finally passed it would serve as a founding stone of the transparent democracy in Latvia, because in this way the Latvian Internal Revenue service would be able to finally learn what belongs to whom in this country!

It seems that the governing coalition is scared to loose their MP mandates, if they have agreed to allow to pass tax declaration law prior January 1, 2008. There are rumours spreading that new government would not be sworn into office prior arival of the Russian Ministrer of Foreign Affairs Mr Lavrov to Riga. Head of the prsidential chancellary Mr Stiprais was evasive whilst answering journalist's questions about posible favourite of the incumbent president. Anyway, the president has announced that he wants to announce the formateur PM the coming Friday. We still do not know whether he is inclined to play with the three candidate or announce apolitical candidate. Nevertheless, whilst listening to the media, reading candidate's programmes, and having learned all the pros and cons of independent decisionmaking of the presidential institution I would name either Mr Dombrovskis or Godmanis if I would be in schoes of the incumbent president. There is a cause for dissatisfaction among broad layers of society and presidential advisors know it. In case president shall nominate either Mr Dombrovskis or Mr Godmanis would mean that he has learned something these months and wants to establish his independent position, thus gradually cutting the unbilical cord between him and the governing coalition. In case Mr Zalāns would be nominated this Friday all illusions about the independent post of the presidential office would be lost, and the delapidated Ms Latvia in rough seas of global economic turbulence could only hope for the grace of God...

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