Thursday, July 3, 2008

The domino effect from the Riga City Council?

Yesterday's news about the end of the governing coalition in the Riga City council proved to be right. Grand scale of bluffing & bargaining takes place in all parties now. The initial plan to topple Jānis Birks from Maire's office backfired and Jānis Birks (TB/LNNK) counterattacked People's Party (TP), screwed Social Democrats (LSDSP) and proposed New Era (JL) to take place of TP.

This morning it was approved also by the leaders of TB/LNNK and JL Roberts Zīle and Solvita Āboltiņa respectively. According to latest news the nucleus of new coalition in Riga City Council would be formed by JL, TB/LNNK and LC/LPP parties. The leaders of three parties were sitting together until 3AM, and the agreement was signed by Roberts Zīle, Solvita Āboltiņa and Mr Zaržeckis (LC/LPP). These 3 parties have 23 votes out of 60 and it is a minority only. It means that it is impossible to have a new coalition in the Riga City Council without creating tremors in the national government, and it was also reminded by Aigars Kalvītis (TP), who said that in the party council meeting they still stick to the old Riga City Council coalition.

There are so many options now that I have neither time nor will to describe all possible scenarios. One issue is clear now, most of Latvian parties are rather agry about the mutating role of TP during past four years particularly. The fact that the new nucleus of the coalition in the Riga City Council is formed without TP only confirms the speculations whirling for quite some time about all parties irrespective of their ideological orientation uniting against the TP.

Establishment of a unified block against TP is somewhat premature however, because it is still possible to initiate the vote of no confidence against the PM and hence have the TP+ZZS+SC coalition with 59 votes in the Saeima. If such a scenario would be played out, still it would be the president who nominates the new prime minister, and I very much doubt that he would nominate anyone else except Mr Godmanis.

The situation is interesting and the next regular City Council meeting will take place on July 9. The initial petition about the vote of no confidence about the Maire of Riga makes the City Council to announce the emergency session within two weeks time. Political bargaining goes on in earnest and it will be interesting in what way the changes in Riga City Council will reverberate into possible changes in national government. In the meantime the parliament is busy with finding the best procedure for finding the new head of KNAB and referendums are coming.

The Saeima this morning with 44 AYS, 6 NAYS and 46 ABSTAINED votes did not approve amendments in pension laws. Amendments in pension laws were proposed by popular motion and the constitution stipulates that this motion goes to referendum now. The date for referendum is not finite yet, because members of the Central Election Bureau (CEB) must vote on it, and the incumbent head of the CEB Arnis Cimdars reckons that it could take place on August 23.

The waste of money by the irresponsible coalition clique continues, because the initiators of both popular motions wanted to have referendum on the same day in order to save costs. The members of governing clique delayed the decision about amendments in pension laws, and thus Latvian electors will participate in referendum twice this summer.

P.S. Those of you reading Estonian may find my thoughts also in today's Postimees.

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