Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The symbol of present governing elite in Latvia - spinelessness! (updated)

It was rumoured yesterday that the president would arrive to the Saeima, the Latvian talking shop to deliver his constitutional amendments en route to Beijing Olympics. Today the president was able to deliver mere inconsequential speech scolding MP's for their lack of work ethics, abrupt end of the tripartite discussions with the trade unions, and bad communication skills. President specified that those 40% of Latvian voters who participated in Saturday's referendum wanted to dissolve the parliament and president reminded that MP's should take such a fact into consideration. Also president blamed parliamentarians for the lack of initiative and particularly blamed them for not coming out with their own version of the constitutional amendments.

The president is either naive, or he is buying more time. If he is naive then nobody can help him. If he is trying to buy more time, then I am afraid that he has no clue about the extent of discontent in the Latvian society. V. Zatlers caught media attention in Bucharest NATO summit whilst supporting Georgia's and Ukraine's aspirations to be awarded the membership action plan with his ominous phrase": "no plan, no action". To paraphrase the author of these words, "if there is no time-frame for constitutional amendments, there is no action from the Saeima". If the present Latvian MP' s are not pressured they simply lack any initiative. It seems that the president has not realized that, and foolishly believes that perhaps MP's consider him as the authority (it is enough just to read opinion of Gundars Bērziņš to learn quite the contrary).

It is not easy for the former surgeon (V.Zatlers) to understand nuances of the post-Soviet governance, and I believe that the whole speech was poorly staged show. The same speech could have been aired in radio, or TV. Why is there need for the speech if MP's are not even allowed to debate after it? After all, it was announced right after the referendum that the president called for the emergency session of the parliament (Art.20) where he planned to use his rights of legal initiative (Art.47), and thus the speech would be about the consequences of the August 2 referendum. The speaker of the parliament and presidium, who are entitled to announce the emergency session according to the Article 20 of the constitution, thought that there is a need for the presidential monologue only. Thus, as a protest the opposition New Era (JL) party members left the parliament building. In the meantime opposition parties collected 1/3 of signatures that are needed (Art.20) for calling another emergency session of the parliament.

Opposition parties (JL, Civic Union, Reconciliation Centre, Artis Pabriks and Aigars Štokenbergs) want to discuss a motion that would prepare constitutional amendments enabling no less than 1/10 of the voters to initiate dissolution of the parliament in today's emergency session. The motion stipulates that the sub-committee should be created and the bill of the constitutional amendents should be finalized until October 1, 2008 in order to pass those constitutional changes during autumn 2008 session of the parliament.

The conservative majority seems to sleep on their laurels while the discontent in the society is brooding. There is no decisive action from the majority unless they are forced so by referendums or opposition disobedience actions. Spinelessness, no rational discussions and absolute lack of the long-term political planning is the best description for the behavior of the present majority clique in the parliament. To conclude, I want to use a comment in Diena about the presidential speech by the author named Ceplis. He was poignantly true when describing today's emergency session of the parliament.

"Prezident, pabariet mūs un aizrādiet par nepadarīto, bat atcerieties, ka tikai ar mēru... nu jūs jau saprotiet, lai cilvēki domā, ka pēc tā notiks aktīva rīcība !" Kalvītis, Daudze, Šlesers u.c. koalīcijas deputāti. [Mr President, scold us and make remarks about our unperformed tasks! But in the meantime you should remember not to must understand that the folks out there should simply believe in decisiveness of your speech! Kalvītis, Daudze, Šlesers a.o. governing coalition MP's ]


The Saeima emergency session is over just before 12.00CET and the opposition's demand for another emergency session was voted down. Today the Saeima official joker Juris Dobelis (TB/LNNK) was able to shine in the limelight of his own populism again. Prior voting on opposition motion J. Dobelis announced "that nothing should be done in a hurry", and continued with the idea that the referendum about constitutional amendments was a crushing defeat for the 600 000 people who came, because they are minority vis-a-vis those 900 000 naysayers or persons who did not come to referendum at all. Dobelis underlined that there are saboteurs who want to undermine stability in the republic, and he also suggested listening to the Lithuanian PM, who said to BNS another day that initiatives about constitutional amendments probably were prepared with the "methods prepared by the Kremlin's spin doctors."

So be it, and the Latvian population is scared by its so called leaders again. Prior the referendum those were PM and the speaker of the parliament, and now it is the official joker of the parliament. There are multitude of persons who listen to these scary tales, and they do not understand that it is a smokescreen for diverting attention from the fundamental problems of the Latvian governance - questionable work of legislators reflected in nonexistence of mandatory property and tax declaration system, faulty political parties financing law, criminal code and dysfunctional tax regime. Finally, the fact is that if in other European countries governing and opposition parties cannot work together because of the constitutional crisis they dissolve the parliament themselves. Latvian politicians, president included, are spineless and forgetful about the roots of the present discontent - the stolen elections in October 2006 and thus the untouchables feeling represented by the majority coalition MP's. Thus, there is no one to call for snap elections and the rat race a'la letton continues.

The head of the judicial committee Vineta Muižniece (People's Party-TP) announced that sub-committee for preparation of the constitutional amendments is being created under auspices of the judicial committee. However, there is no time-frame provided and it means that those amendments can be easily dragged through the corridors of the Latvian parliament until September 2010. So be it now until the next referendum on August 23.

No trust and accountability expected from the spineless rulers of this ...

Photo: Evija Trifanova

and this hall...


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