Thursday, July 10, 2008

Possible referendum scenarios for August 2, 2008 (updated with charts)

There is nothing substantially new to add about the forthcoming referendum, because positions of civil society and government are clear I thought prior starting to write this piece. The Latvian parliamentary majority clique first has to show who they really are during the July 17 plenary session. The referendum campaign should be going on full swing by then. Thus, is it already possible to project the approximate participation rate, and how many of the voters would vote AYE in forthcoming referendums? Yes, and I am quite sure that the number of 330 000 citizens coming to voting stations would be surpassed this August, and mostly due to economic factors (high inflation, closing factories, hence increasing feeling of insecurity).

But while talking about the sheer participation numbers Vladimir Chepurov had an emotional blog entry in today's Diena (in Russian). Leaving aside his ideas about the importance of the 25% of ethnically Russian electorate, he gave me a hunch to contemplate about. Namely the mean participation rate during four parliamentary elections (1995, 1998, 2002, 2006) in Latvia is 69,95%, and it has declined below the 70% mark due to the very low participation rate during the 2006 elections (62,23%). Due to negative demographic situation and emigration to the Emerald Island and Misty Albion the number of active voters has decreased. Nevertheless, the fact is that there are 1512755 electors, and 35824 of them officially reside outside Latvia with double citizenship. In addition to that about 27 500 Latvian citizens officially reside in Ireland.

It makes it so that for a positive outcome in both referendums (August 2 & 23) one needs a half of total number of electors, and that means that there is a need after 756 377 AYE votes. If one divides the number of electors with the mean participation percentage (69,95%), then it would make 1 058 928 electors appearing in voting stations on August 2. If the participation rate would be as low as during the 2006 parliamentary elections (62,23%), when for example the Irish Latvian contingent showed very little attention, then only 937 908 electors would appear.

Alright, now lets see and compare the votes given to the majority clique and how much opposition got in 2006 elections. The majority (TP, ZZS, LC/LPP, TB/LNNK) got 469924 or 51,79% of total votes. The two biggest opposition parties (JL & SC) got roughly 270 000 or 30,8% of the total vote. Since Spring 2008 the TB/LNKK has split, and fraction of its supporters has joined ranks of opposition Civic Union party.

There were 330 000 AYE votes during last summer referendum about changes in security laws with no real campaign and without any support from the president/s, thus we may hypothetically assume that (330000-270000) about 60 000 voters who were initially tricked by governing majority voted in that referendum for opposition cause. Therefore, to conclude we could envisage two rough scenarios here.

Scenario I (positive): In case the inflation, official support from former and incumbent presidents, rising unemployment, negative impact from events starting from virtual coup d'etat in December 31,2006 until sacking of A. Loskutovs as the head of KNAB in June 29, 2008, and finally a chance for citizens to meet&discuss during the XXIV Song Fest will have an effect, then roughly subtracting 469924 from 1058928 and adding 60 000= 649 004+ voters would vote AYE.

Scenario II (negative): In case the governing clique really has a clout over "their voters" (if voters are afraid to loose even the meagre welfare they have acquired during the "seven fat years of Mr Kalvītis") then roughly subtracting 469924 from 937908 = 467 984 voters would vote AYE only.

Eurobarometer and other polls show ever declining support for almost all institutions of the representative democracy, and about 22% of the voters would definitely not show up in voting stations. Thus, the number of 649 004 AYE votes is VERY optimistic, and for civil society to succeed campaign organizers MUST think how to get those 22% of alienated voters in and outside Latvia to the election booths. Thus, for the campaign to succeed there is a need to appeal to additional 108 000 low income and disillusioned voters. It is possible to make it happen, and the positive result now purely depends on a simple, smart and appealing campaign ORGANIZATION!

P.S. For those of you reading in Latvian I wrote a piece for Diena today.
P.P.S. And this is what Postimees writes about Latvia for those of you reading in Estonian.


Its Saturday morning and Apollo has published a second set of the DnB bank commissioned charts about
people's satisfaction and future expectations about the state of economy in Latvia.

Q: How would you evaluate the present state of economy in Latvia? (from left to right - very good, rather good, satisfactory, rather bad, very bad, hard to tell)
Q: Do you think that economic situation at the present moment gets better, does not change or gets worse? (from left to right - gets better, does not change, gets worse, hard to tell)

Q: While thinking about the state of Latvian economy after 12 months or comparing it with the present situation you rather think that... (from left to right - it will significantly improve, will improve slightly, no change, will rather deteriorate, it will significantly deteriorate, hard to tell)


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