Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Still some way to go to referendum? (updated)

The Latvian Central Election Bureau just reported that 134 966 citizens gave their signatures for initiation of the referendum that would give not only president (Art. 48), but also certain number of citizens to initiate snap elections (Art. 78, 79). In order to collect the 149 064 signatures (10% of electors of the last elections) the Latvian civil society is still about 14 000 signatures short.

Representatives from the Association of Free Trade Unions believe that they might count also circa 11 000 signatures that allowed to start the signature collection campaign. This hope might turn out to be misleading, however, because the most active and responsible part of civil society usually do the signing sometimes without properly following for what is it really for, because they stand for a cause. For example, I did not know that my signature for initiation of the signature campaign would count also for the campaign that would end day after tomorrow.

It means, that in order to be on the safe side, the Association of Free Trade Unions and civil society at large must collect at least 24 thousand additional votes till April 10, 2008.


It is Wednesday noon and vDiena reports that people stand in queues in order to sign to initiate the referendum that would bring constitutional amendments in Latvia. Already in Tuesday evening news several prominent opinion makers (Sallija Benfelde, Kārlis Streips and Askolds Rodins) called citizens to really think about the significance of the upcoming referendum.
Pessimism prevails among civil society members, especially seeing how marketing strategy serves the purpose of the red coloured rag for the consumer in Stockmann crazy arenas in Riga and Tallinn today. In the meantime someone is still humorous these days, including Diena cartoonist Ernests who's "kalvitis" announces : "I reckon than in order to promote the Latvian entertainment industry, we gotta join forces with Russia and create another TV show..." ...."and dance after the GAZPROM doodle/"

The Saeima emergency session just ended, where scattered opposition demanded the government with their project to have a clear answer, not to drop the coal and biomass powered station construction from government medium planning documents and to start immediately working on the planning document. Majority of parliamentarians after the Ivars Godmanis speech, where he promised a detailed answer about Latvian long term energy policy in his 100 days in the office speech, said NAY to the opposition project. The project was a bit too vague I should say, but at least there is more clarity now about where Latvia stands prior amendments in the Energy bill should be voted into law in Saeima on April 10, 2008.

The project, most importantly, does not bar construction of the coal and biomass powered electricity station. The question about state guarantees (using public funds) to the gas powered station is still open. Funniest part of the proposed amendments is at the end of the document. On questions whether social partners were questioned, or whether public was informed about amendments, there is a blunt answer NO! Also, quite interestingly in the list of NGO's who were involved discussing aforementioned amendments are Latvijas Gāze Ltd and Latvenergo Plc.....

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