Monday, April 28, 2008

Stagnation of the ruling political class continues

Last events in the Latvian political theatre do not provide much optimism. Yesterday Mr Joaquin Almunia, EU Commissioner responsible for economic and monetary affairs came out with his bureau's forecast for the bloc of 27. New and adjusted basic economic indices for Latvia are bleak enough. While GDP forecast for 2008 is adjusted to 3,8% its the inflation that is predicted still to be the highest in the EU at the end of the 2008 - 15,8%.

Today's Diena published latest poll of the Latvijas Fakti.


The negative trend started already in March 2007 when those supporting present political class and alienating from democratic regime split after omenous announcement of the former president Vaira Vīķe Freiberga, and detention of the Maire of Ventspils that preceded the latter announcement. During Summer of 2007 the support for the governing quadrumvirate started to dip below the support for the opposition parties. The peak of the distrust against the ruling coalition reached at the end of October 2007. I already wrote about the reasons for such an absolute slump of trust in legitimacy before and here I would like to give a short comment on latest polling data.

The most negative trend is the high number of undecided voters and continuous increase (+ 2,5% in April) of the number of alienated voters (the lowest quintile of the graph=21,3%), or those who would definitely not go to elections. It means that today every voter out of five electors would definitely not go to elections. Thus, the rough estimate from the Central Election Bureau data about the total No. of voters in 2007 (1 495 199) would make it 291 800 alienated electors today.

The number of undecided or swing voters have dipped only slightly and as already said it is still 25.7% high. It is the opposition Reconciliation Centre (RC) party gained +1,3% and RC is a stable leader in the polls for quite some time allready. The newly founded Civic Union party has lost about 2,1% of its support in comparison with March data. Also Messrs Pabriks & Štokenbergs newly founded "Another Politics" has lost its support (by 0,8% points) due to the questionably received and ongoing signature collection campaign.

Only two parties from the ruling quadrumvirate - Union of Greens and Farmers and People's Party - have enough support to pass into parliament if elections would be tomorrow. However, the support of subseqently 7,7 and 6,6 percent of the electorate is too little in order to take a decisive action and lead the Latvia Inc. out of the economic malaise. Especially so, when the Prime Minister's party has scanty 3,8 % support of the electorate.

There is another option actually! To disregard the public opinion at all and make painful and thus needed structural reforms (cutting red tape and jump starting Latvian economy with overhaul of taxation system), because the support for the existing political class is irrevocably lost. Do they have guts for that, I doubt. Instincts to stay at power are stronger than abstract interests of the Latvian public in the long run, unfortunately.


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