Sunday, January 18, 2009

There will be snap elections in Latvia!

Since January 13, 2009 political events in Latvia are developing very quickly indeed. Riots followed peaceful political demonstration in the Riga Dome square. I was in the middle of the crowd and reported about the events to the Estonian Broadcasting Corporation. Since those ominous events there are plenty of discussions in the Latvian mas media about the causes that took gangs of rioters to the streets. It seems that that governing coalition party members and particularly the speaker of the Saeima do not really understand what is happening outside their power bubble. Messrs. Daudze and Segliņš simply blamed opposition parties for daring to organize demonstration that was attended by some 10-20 thousand peaceful demonstrators. Instead of critically analysing causes for demonstration and riots that followed government members continued to spread their smug announcements until 12:30CET on January 14, 2009.

On this day the Latvian president had a press conference. Upon his return from Strasbourg the previous day the president announced the number of tasks the parliament has failed to deliver, and set the March 31, 2009 deadline for parliament and the government to comply. Rather unexpectedly the president concluded that if the parliament and the government would not be able to deliver this time, then he would use the powers entitled upon him in the Latvian constitutional Art. 48.

The announcement was thus unexpected that the incumbent Minister of Interior announced that president has delivered an ultimatum, and the speaker of the Saeima interpreted the announcement, "that the president is entitled to ask the parliament instead of demanding from it", reminding the public about the omnipotence of the Saeima in the parliamentary republic.

Nevertheless, the events have developed very quickly and since January 17, 2009 the People's Party (TP) announced that they consider president's resolution as too inconsistent, thus demanding the snap elections immediately. Just finished watching the LNT TV program "vox populi" and there also Latvian Transport Supremo announced that he agrees with Mr Segliņš. Furthermore all party representatives that participated in the TV program basically agreed that snap elections in Latvia is the fact now! The only question now is about timing, because the president has announced the March 31 deadline, but at least two coalition members want snap elections right away.

Reasons for TP and LPP/LC parties to have snap elections immediately are rather trivial. In case snap elections would take place immediately, it would mean that they would take place without amendments in election law, that the president has demanded in his January 14, 2009 announcement. Also both parties breached the law in the October 2006 elections, and because of their failure to comply with the election campaign limits both parties owe the state treasury around 2 mlj. EUR.

Tomorrow political parties will hold consultations with the president. Upcoming snap elections is the fact now and the question is whether new parliamentary elections would take place in June 6, 2009 together with the municipal and European Parliament elections or after the summer in early September? Slimming of the government is being discussed and the PM left for Korea leaving the Transport Minister Šlesers as the acting PM. The situation is changing constantly and both coalition and opposition members are testing their tactics prior the triple elections. Elections tactics, retirement of the post soviet political elite and new persons coming into the stagnated political realm in Latvia will be the next topic to discuss about.

P.S. For those of you reading Estonian here is my Postimees article from January 15

P.S. Here in the Estonian Broadcasting Corporation program ``Vabariigi Kodanikud`` I participated on January 16., 2009.


Anonymous said...

It is ridiculous. I doubt people would wait until Summer or later for a new Saeima. It's a stall tactic. Sick.

Anonymous said...

There three reasonable figures that could help Latvia to find their way out of the political and economical crises as well- the president, the PM and the people. As the first two belong to interests of certain parties the only remaining figure that is capable to act are the people. Once they fail there nothing else left- just a bankrupt and failed state.

Baltic said...

Dear Anonymous,

People are agitated and opposition consolidates. The time until March 31 will be interesting indeed:)