Thursday, May 8, 2008

MP's and petit criminals

Just finished listening to radio broadcast, and as it could already be expected from the onset, the motion of the opposition parties to question the PM in the Saeima about his first hundred days in the office was voted down. PM did not even manage to arrive to the parliament and the motion was endorsed only by 33 MP, while 46 said NAY and one abstained. Thus, my assumption about the motion as a PR trick was right.

Also the voting machine almost unanimously ratified the new Constitutional Treaty for Europe, also known as Lisbon Treaty, with 70 AYE, 3 NAY, and 1 abstained vote. Unfortunately there were no discussions and the Lisbon treaty was rubber stamped through the parliament. In the similar manner the ruling coalition members did not start discussion about the proposed constitutional amendments, and swiftly delegated them to the judicial commission for scrutiny. The latter amendments were initiated by the Latvian Free Trade Union Association, and to endorse them they collected 217 567 signatures (the campaign that ended last month). The idea of the constitutional amendments is to give the right to dissolve the parliament also to the qualified number of citizens, because according to present constitution only president is endowed with such a right.

Most of the ruling coalition MP's vocally resented amendments in media, but today none of them took a word from the pulpit. Usually parliament is there for having a debate, but it seems that incumbent MP's still have problems understanding that the primary task of their talking shop (parliament/parler - to talk in French) is actually to discuss matters, and not to make decisions in close circle of acquaintances and just present the verdict for rubber stamping it, huh, uhh.

It means that the Saeima judicial commission has about a month to mull those amendments through parliamentary juggernaut. If the parliament rejects them, then proposed changes of constitution should be put on referendum for citizens to decide. There is an option for president to intervene in case parliament rejects those amendments, but it is too much to expect it from the "incumbent appendix" to the ruling coalition.

Finally, funny news appeared today in Db about the odious head of the Latvian Customs Bureau Criminal Investigation unit Vladimiris Vaškevics. Someone allegedly tried to assassinate him last year, and after that attempt (police investigation has not found anything so far) both PM Kalvītis and Interior Minister Godmanis came out with a strong announcement, that this assassination attempt was "an affront against the Latvian state".

Today the same Vaškevics, also in some Latvian circles known as "footballer" or "legal snatcher" (direct translation from the slang of Russian criminals - "vor v zakone"), is afraid that someone is trying to assassinate him again.


Aleks said...

I don't want to seem to defend the MPs, but I think it's really premature to criticize them for the lack of debate on the constitutional amendments.

If they tried to amend the bill right now, or not to pass it into a committee, it would automatically trigger the referendum procedure. Triggering referendum too early may mean people'd still be in cities and not in their dachas and would actually want to participate in it. They can't have that.

On the other hand, if they tried to debate it at this point, it'd be a futile exercise(not that it prevented them from doing so earlier).

I think a good decision was to let the judicial committee wrestle with it, to see what implications will be, etc. etc. and then present it back to the Saeima for consideration. Then, we'd hear a lot of debate on the issue. And the actual vote.

Besides, it'd give time the ruling clique to develop a PR strategy how to justify their opposition to the legislation.

Baltic said...


I agree with you in most points!

However, while critisizing MPs for the lack of debate I was deriding the ongoing culture of NOT DISCUSSING issues in the parliament, but in small cirlcles instead. Letting judicial committee to wrestle with it is a part of the parliamentary procedure, and I am sick and tired for ruling clique members being vocal in media but not in parliament:)

Nobody ever gave up his power without a fight, that is correct! But the point is, that if MP's have to look behind their backs and calculate how many members of one group or another are present (a'la 6 members in PRC now) shows that there is total lack of TRUST in the parliament among MP's themselves. How do they expect to achieve it from their public then:)