Friday, April 11, 2008

Second signature campaign is over

Less than a year later after the signature campaign against the virtual coup d'etat in Latvia (government changing security laws on the last day of 2006), there is almost as identical number of signatures collected as in April 2008. While in May 2007 there were 212 000 signatures, this year there are about 213 000 signatures collected in order to initiate constitutional amendments.

After a week another signature collection campaign would start and that one will be about amendments in pension laws. Initiators of this campaign wanted to hold the signature collection campaign simultaneously with the campaign that successfully ended yesterday. Nevertheless, Latvian political "elite" was scared to loose their perks. Therefore they thought that while keeping those two campaigns apart there would not be quorum for initiation of at least one referendum. Whilst doing it "our responsible" leaders made Latvian taxpayers to pay additional LVL 570 000 (its the sum one signature collection campaign costs). Democracy is expensive regime indeed, but its worth to pay such sums knowing that gradually it will allow us to get rid of inefficient "governors". Thus there would be no need for addition and symbolically annual 570 000Ls expenses. I hope that one day there would be a chance to have MP's who would legislate and not just continue their talking shop and travel to exotic countries without knowledge and understanding that they travel for the need of civitas and not just ego or oligarchia.

If one looks into Eurobarometer data then one may find reasons for Latvian public making referendum already second year in a row. I made a small research last year, and compared support for the government & parliament in Estonia, EU (an average), Latvia and Lithuania. I made the table only from YES answers. Undecided voters are fluctuating from 3-5%, thus the rest you may calculate yourself are representing NO's. Number 1 displays result of the spring poll and the second row (without a number) displays the autumn poll.

Q: Do you trust your government? YES answers

Q: Do you trust your parliament? YES answers

There are similarities between lack of trust for the government in Latvia and Lithuania. Both countries, however, are miles away from Estonia and the autumn Eurobarometer data clearly shows that lack of trust for the government in Latvia has stagnated below the legitimacy line of the democratic system (19% support for the government and only 16% for the parliament).

The number 213 000 is roughly 10% of the total number of inhabitants in Latvia and that is the most active one. However, I would argue that the first 5% are "true" activists (135000 signatures given until April 8), because another 5% of signatures were collected literally during last two days of the election campaign. It is a usual trend already, and it shows that majority of Latvians like to be led by collective action. What do I mean by this is the fact that instead of making up their mind on their own, and going and signing in relative calm about 100 000 citizens preferred to stay in long queues where they could chitchat and/or let the steam out. There are several reasons for such behaviour, and they would be discussed another time.

No comments: