Monday, October 5, 2009

Latvian parliament members are too tired to perform?

Parliaments in parliamentary democracies reign supreme. Latvia is a stellar example of parliamentary democracy in its extreme form. By definition parliamentary democracy enables all parts of society to be heard, but simultaneously the system is plagued by factionalism and weak governments. Latvian situation is aggravated by the fact that after regaining independence there was no constitutional caucus, thus the Satversme of 1922 was rolled over with minor amendments into 1993. Problems of parliamentary democracy in Latvia are multiple. About the Art. 59 I already wrote in the last blog entry, but also questionable quality of MP's, who are simply not up to their tasks, aggravate problems.
Obviously, those are Latvian voters who elected such representatives, and you may ask why are voters like they are in Latvia - the most Eurosceptic (p.15-17) and amongst whom 91% (p.22) do not trust their elected representatives as Eurobarometer SPRING 2009 public opinion survey clearly outlines? First, Latvian MP's (fifth of them sit there since 1993) have disoriented Latvian voters, and it is reflected by the 30-40% of voters who traditionally do not how to vote prior elections, and also political party membership in Latvia (1% of eligible citizens) is the lowest in the whole of the EU (average 5%). Second, Latvian MP's fostered stagnation of the electoral system by keeping questionable quality of neoliberal tax policies and election law intact the last 15 years. Latvian voters trusted their elected representatives from small interest groups (they cannot be called parties in traditional sense) who either screwed their voters (People's Party, Greens and Farmers, Fatherland Party, Latvian Way and Latvian First Party Union), or who happened to be in opposition (New Era, Harmony Center, Social Democrats) and had no influence upon legislative and executive process.
The EU membership and influx of billions of euros stagnated the governance system and made MP's even more complacent. There are several actors, musicians and even the power lifting world champion who are trying to innovate the best time killing techniques possible. I do not ask Latvian President to try to resemble members of the Finnish Eduskunta who called for vote of no confidence of the existing PM due to timber used for construction of his private home, and caused calls for snap elections to the parliament, or to be as resolute as Swedish PM sacking Mona Sahlin from her post due to Toblerone chocolate and pair of stockings paid with the SAP credit card.
I do understand that for the Latvian political culture to reach the maturity of Scandinavian participatory democracy there is still some time needed. However, I am asking the president to capitalize on his raising awareness about structural problems in Latvia and use the powers entitled to him in Art. 48 of the Latvian Constitution. Legally the president of republic is the only public person who can facilitate the Latvian state exiting the present rat hole. After all, president changed his mind last week and recognized the need to overhaul the system, of how the Latvian political parties are financed. Similarly, the president could refresh his memory and think about the performance of the 9th Saeima. After all amendments into the law of security organizations that were detrimental to the very existence of the democratic republic (2006) were made for someone, the loss of confidence in the Kalvitis government (2007) & Godmanis government (2009) did not fall from empty sky, faulty amendments in criminal law allowing to continue money launderers to thrive were passed for someone, failure to bring about rational constitutional changes during the summer of 2008 were meant to guard the structure of the inefficient system intact, and inability to pass the budget in due time every year is a chronic disease of Lettish parliament already. The list is pretty long already, and if its is not enough, then a year prior the end of their tenure (!) Latvian MP's have passed the legislature entitling those MP's who would not get into the next parliament with hefty compensations. After all the Republic of Latvia is officially called neither monarchy nor oligarchic republic, with entitlements being met just because you are member of the parliament! To paraphrase the old fairytale about the king who was fond of extravagant dress the Saeima is reigning supreme in Latvia while wearing exotic garbs, and only the biggest fool would not notice that in reality the sovereign is not wearing a garb at all and it is absolutely naked... .
P.S. And for those reading Latvian, here are my first and second blog entry in "Diena", and for Estonian readers here is my opinion for ERR.

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