Monday, February 23, 2009

More candidates for the Latvian PM post proposed (updated)

On weekend rumours whirled about the party faction head Mrs Solvita Āboltiņa being the candidate for the opposition New Era party (NE). This morning the three parliamentary opposition parties - New Era, Civic Union (CU) and Society for Other Politics (SCP) - came out with an announcement that they would come out with a common candidate. Today the NE party proposed Mr Valdis Dombrovskis (MEP) as their candidate for the PM nomination, very good, the best candidate possible during these dire times indeed!

Last week the three opposition parties announced that they would coordinate their acts and would also demand early elections. This morning the NE party cancelled the three opposition parties' meeting because of the meeting with the Union of Greens and Farmers (UGF) at the same time. According to SCP and CU all opposition parties would agree on common nomination for the PM post. Confirmations from CU and SCP agreeing on Valdis Dombrovskis candidacy have not come in yet however.

Also the largest russophone opposition Harmony Centre (HC) party announced their candidate for the PM office Mr Jānis Urbanovičs. He is a long standing opposition member and sits in the parliament since 1993. In addition to the announcement about the HC nominee the HC party faction head in the parliament Mr Nils Ušakovs announced that "there is total confusion in the parliament, and thus he would not exclude the possibility about calling for vote of no confidence against the president Zatlers."

In the meantime UGF, PP and Latvia's First/Latvian Way party union announced that they are ready to work under the NE leadership. Strong leadership skills would be required from the new PM, because the previous governing coalition left a huge mess behind them. I do not believe in chances of the PP nominee Mr Edgars Zalāns, and most probably he would be badly battered by Mr Valdis Dombrovskis on tonight's Latvian Public TV 100.pants discussion show.

Not only structural reforms, but also negotiations with the IMF would have to be continued, because the IMF has left the town since the government of Ivars Godmanis resigned. Valdis Dombrovskis being a former Minister of Finance could combine his educational background and skills with his networks in the European Parliament, and regain the credibility for the government talking in one voice with the foreign donors. Dark clouds are above the Latvian financial system and faster the new government would act the better!

Text in Latvian: The currency basket-Latvian lat; [The Dog] It is only a matter of time

Cartoon: Gatis Šļūka


There are bombastic news circling in Russia and in the Baltic States now about the billionaire businessman Pjotr Aven offering his services to become the next Latvian Prime Minister. Pjotr Aven is a president of the Alfa Bank, he already owns the Latvia's biggest alcohol producer "Latvijas Balzāms". While Aven without Latvian citizenship but with his ancestry steeped into Latvian red riflemen has not spoken himself, and only his aid has said "billionaire Pyotr Aven is "very interested" in becoming Latvia's next prime minister after the Baltic state's government collapsed last week", negotiations about the future composition of the cabinet are ongoing.

This morning the Civic Union (CU) announced that they support Valdis Dombrovskis candidacy now for leading the Latvian government until early elections, and The Society for Other Politics has not come out with their announcement yet. Meanwhile the New Era (NE) has included the another opposition Harmony Centre party (HC) in the consultation process, thus taking the initiative away from the People's Party (PP). The biggest bone of contention from inclusion HC into negotiations is the fact that the HC is a party union where the most odious member is the unreformed Latvian Socialists led by Alfrēds Rubiks . An agreement is reached so far that Latvian Socialists could not expect anything tangible from being partners in the government, while in elections the HC would still represent them.

To be honest, I somehow suspect that the biggest and ideologically homogeneous parties with such tactics want to brake the ideologically heterogeneous party unions prior elections. Already prior the resignation of Ivars Godmanis government the Green party announced that they could leave the Union of Greens and Farmers (UGF), if the Ministry of Environment would be merged wit the proposed "Super ministry of Economics, environment and regional affairs". Now, with the HC being a vital stabilizing force during the negotiation process in forming the new government I do not suspect that Latvian Socialists could come out with similar announcement, due to the simple reason - Alfrēds Rubiks should run for the European Parliament from the HC list this summer. But in the medium term inclusion of the HC in the government could turn away the core supporters of socialism from the party.

If it would be 2006 now then I would suspect disagreements also in the Latvia's Way and Latvian First Party Union. Now, with the party merged there is not reason to suspect it splitting. However, after the new government in place and most probably early elections coming we should expect consolidation of Latvian political parties, and especially in the right wing. It wont happen within a year now, but the endogenous events [economic and financial crisis] and the structural requirements to overhaul the whole Latvian economic system and administrative apparatus would force consolidation of Latvian conservative, centrist and liberal forces. In the meantime Latvian folks have to carry on with their daily lives, and "Diena" cartoonist has a rather peculiar view on today's situation...

Text in Latvian: [TV anchorwoman] Political parties still have not reached an agreement who would take a place on the PM seat... [unpaid bills on the floor]

Cartoon: Zemgus


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