Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Referendum - PRO et contra

It is nice to meet colleagues, politicians, and simply people on the streets and hear their concerns about the future of Latvian democracy. All the people I have met last couple of days are definitely going to election booths and would vote AYE the coming Saturday. In the meantime politicians from the governing parties have perhaps woken up from living in their power bubble, and have acknowledged that probably Latvian voters would turn out in their hundreds of thousands.

Today's Diena published answers of the Latvian top notch politicians while talking about their intentions prior the ominous referendum.

PM Ivars Godmanis (LPP/LC): "Even prewar Latvia was characterised with political instability, when governments were changing every 8-9 months, but there were no snap elections. Today, if people are not happy with their MP`s they can elect new ones in next elections, or become candidates themselves. Electing the parliament is creative process, while referendum would be a destructive process without any result."


Speaker of the parliament Gundars Daudze (ZZS): "Referendum would create a deep crisis in Latvia and therefore I shall not participate in the referendum and so shall ask also other people. These amendments are judicially questionable and are undemocratic. The basic principle of democracy is that minority must yield to majority, but constitutional amendments are not offering us this. These constitutional amendments could create a huge crisis and the situation might be created when there is neither elected parliament nor president in Latvia."

The head of the People´s Party parliamentary fraction Māris Kučinskis (TP): "referendum is an instrument in hands of opposition parties. I will not take part in referendum because amendments are dangerous. They allow a small number of people (150 000) to change election results.





Former PM and member of the opposition New Era party Einars Repše (JL): " I will vote AYE because the stagnating governance system must be changed. In order to change this system the constitution should contain a clause that would enable the voters to recall politicians who work against the state interests. I do not remember that there was ever a vote of no confidence looming over Saeima when it was passing heavy but needed reform packages. Only those MP`s are despised who work for the benefit of their "Godfathers". Proposed amendments are in accordance with the basic principles of democracy, because it is a universal norm when half of the electors participating are considered as eligible to decide about constitutional amendments, and a positive decision of half of those participating is enough for making proposed constitutional changes."

Leader of the Civic Union party Ms Sandra Kalniete (PS): "I will vote AYE. Present governance in Latvia is not a true democracy but a dictatorship of a narrow circle of political elite. Proposed amendments could finally make MP`s to listen to the will of their voters, because the bone of contention is the necessary quorum for the dissolution of the parliament. I must remind that the necessary number for eligibility of the vote (half of the voters in the last elections) is the same as was used in the 2003 referendum prior Latvian voters decided whether they want to become members of the EU."

MEP Roberts Zīle (TB/LNNK): "those amendments would not strengthen democracy and I will not participate. If we want to find a way out of the present situation that has been created by present MP`s, then such amendments will only weaken political institutions in the middle term, and we will not be able to pass serous decisions. Thus, we will do damage to our own political strength."


MP Juris Sokolovskis (PCTVL): "We are calling our voters to participate because the elite is alienated from voters in Latvia. Of course the free trade union proposed amendments are important, but even more important is the principle - the people can remind MP`s that the power belongs to the people (Art. 2 of Latvian constitution). Even if the quorum for having the result of referendum as valid would not be reached and only 30—40% voters would take part in the referendum still politicians will not be able to ignore the will of electors. "

Leader of the Reconciliation Party Nils Ušakovs (SC): "People must have their say. Of course I will go to referendum and we are agitating both in Latvian and Russian media. Those amendments are extremely important because they would finally enable voters to control their representatives. "






Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Artis Pabriks (Sabiedriba Citai politikai): "I will use my voice and will take part in both the August 2 and 23 referendums. I am convinced that participation in the plebiscite is mandatory for every citizen who lives in a democratic society. I think that I must use my voice, while there are folks who openly declare that they are not interested in politics, and thus they will not take part in referendum. I must unfortunately conclude that still their unused voice will be used by others. Finally, I have not heard any tangible argument why the proposed amendments would be bad."

P.S. My conclusion is simple - so called political elite in this country with rather few exceptions really think that their voters are stupid, and thus the politicians are locked into their imaginary power bubble.

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