Thursday, October 22, 2009

Latvian internet media frenzy about the possible fall of the government?

The Latvian Minister of Finance Mr Einārs Repše in the KNL TV show yesterday explained reasons, why did he reprimand the head of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Mr Jakāns to foster structural reforms and sack civil servants with ambiguous credentials. During the TV show and in his media pronouncements today Mr Jakāns acted as if the Minister of Finance would not have been his nominal boss, and the Minister of Finance decided to temporarily sideline him from his duties today.

There have been rumours about oligarchic parties (People's Party, Union of Greens and Farmers and Latvian First and Latvian Way Party Union) engineering possible fall of the government after the 2010 budget would be passed in the parliament. These rumors materialized since the odious former PM is back in Latvian politics. Also rather uniquely the parliament did not appoint the judge Māris Vīgants as the new member of the Supreme Court (its neither caucus of judges nor the president who appoints new judges, because the parliament reigns supreme in Latvia), and several legal experts and pundits argue that the major reason for such unexpected decision was the fact that Mr Vīgants was the judge who ruled in favour of incarcerating odious Latvian minigarch Aivars Lembergs indicted in several charges ranging from corruption cases (proper explanation here should be state capture) to exceeding the power of his public office already back in 2007. The State Prosecutor's office is slowly proceeding with this massive and politically sensitive court case, thus Mr Lembergs was allowed out from the prison the same year and according to the latest information he is under house arrest, that still did not prohibit him from visiting parliament yesterday.

With all these events evolving major Latvian media channels already argue about the possible fall of the government approaching. While using the LETA as primary source, Diena, Tvnet, Apollo and Delfi discuss behind the tent discussions in the Saeima, where the gravest sin of the present government is deemed to be the minister of finance crossing the red line and sidelining a chum of the People's Party folks. The NRA is the only paper that argues the opposite, arguing "that the Minister of Finance found the best possible time to sideline the compromised head of the IRS". Neither the Latvian Radio nor LTV 1 have proven such news, and I am wondering why majority of newspaper and internet media are thus eager to spread the news about an end of the government approaching - is it cheap media frenzy or a part of whipping up the crisis expectations?


Wannabe Sorosieši said...

One thing that appalled me was that the judicial vote in Saeima was secret, hence no one in Saeima can be held accountable.

nelielrīdziniece said...

Tom, that's a good point.

Yet, if the results had been otherwise, i.e., Vīgants had been appointed, would this question even have arisen?

The rationale for a secret ballot is that it allows the voter to exercise his/her conscience without fear of reprisal. Hence - the sanctity of the secret ballot for the electorate when it elects its parliamentary and local government representatives.

I'm absolutely *not* defending the secret ballot in this case. But, I would like to hear arguments pro & con for its use by elected representatives. Specifically, this is occurring within the context of representatives who're elected via a proportional list system, where parties - not individual representatives - are held to account. Although in LV, in fact, no party has been held accountable for its actions post-1991, if this had been an open vote, then it's reasonable to expect that the votes would line up precisely how party bosses dictated.

Is that what's desirable?

I'm just trying to say that perhaps the electorate needs to define whether it wants to vote for parties, individuals or a mixture of the two. (Btw, am looking forward to Veiko's input.:))

Visu labu,


Veiko Spolitis said...


Secret ballot is nothing extraordinary, but the REAL question is whether the parliament must reign supreme?? Basically we come to problems of disfunctional satversme (the same problem that "killed" Weimar Germany and allowed Ulmanis and Paets to exercise their coup d'etats).

Veiko Spolitis said...


The question now is whether nomination of judges should be left for president, or college of judges to decide, and that is the question LV president asked after the Vīgants precedent?Even if there are changes in electoral law (just look on Minister of Justice Mareks Seglins now, and LV political barons parties before obstructing the political parties financing law in Saeima now............#$%^&*(), we still need neat balancing of powers among the branches of government - because the Saeima reigning traditioanlly supreme (similar to Soviet:)) means that the STUPIDITY IS ARTIFICIALLY ELEVATED TO THE PODIUM, thus REIGNING SUPREME...:)

nelielrīdziniece said...

Sveiks, Veiko!

Oh, I never thought having a rational electional law – a *huge* undertaking in LV’s political culture – would take care of all of LV’s problems, not even over the course of a few elections, once its effects were fully felt. It’s just one part of a solution that I have a fairly in-depth understanding of how the component parts of any electoral law interact; and from a voter's point of view, it is the backbone of a voter's relationship to the government. Since the AAA quasi-junta’s speciality is finding loop holes in laws - as happened during the last campaign in 2006 – it’s especially hard to imagine how the junta’s strangle hold can be broken just by changing the election law. (But I still stick to my original objection about gov’t financed political parties: until KNAB has the power to enforce campaign finance articles in the law, then this money will merely be an *addition* to the melnā kase of illegal contributions. I’ll relent when an ‘apjomīgs pakets’ is devised, covering all the components and laws affecting that issue. : ) )

I do, however, think your teaming up with Pleps is a superb idea! I met with him a year ago when I was looking for a constitutional attorney, and he’s as impressive in person in conversation as he is when reading his finely honed articles. If you two provide a detailed analysis and some type of an action plan, including the plusses and minuses of various alternatives, then that would be a quantum leap for public discussion. At the very least, we’d get rid of the mantra-like chants that all we need to do is ‘enact’ a presidential republic and voila: paradise on earth descends upon LV (with Ulmanis I smiling down upon us from the heavens above).

Visu labu,


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