Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mandatory tax and property declaration (Updated)

FINALLY after two decades of ongoing debates and painstaking foot dragging the Latvian parliamentary majority has managed to pass thus significant law on mandatory tax and property declaration by unanimous vote! It happened exactly eighteen and seventeen years later than in Estonia and Lithuania. I will elaborate in detail on this important legal innovation during upcoming weekend, but until then Latvian Internal Revenue Service can finally start preparing to operate in an environment when they have a legal basis for prosecuting oligarchic or minigarchic crooks in earnest:)

P.S. Here is the latest Latvijas Fakti pollster about the popularity of the Latvian political parties


Gatis Šļūka

(Lady) "We are absolutely zeroes (nerds)...
(Man) "No. We do not have to submit the zero declaration (mandatory tax and property declaration).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Emergency elections over and referendum forthcoming (updated)

September 17, 2011 emergency elections are behind us and after rather eventful government formation process the new cabinet has managed to accomplish already quite some significant feats. Evaluation of the government work traditionally takes place after the first hundred days, thus proper assessment of the work of the government will come from the author of this blog during the first half of the February. Until then we will have to live through the metamorphosis of the Latvian political system due to the possible referendum (due to the signature collection campaign about the Russian as the second language in Latvia), because the Central Electoral Commission must announce their initial verdict during upcoming days. The effective travails of the government and the parliament will determine whether the structure of the outdated infrastructure of public services will be finally transformed. If it will give at least some tangible results then the newly opened disagreements on language policy would be probably mitigated.

Actually the outcome of signature collection campaign signifies that the 2013 March municipal elections campaign has virtually started. The political environment was unnecessarily shaken up and channeled into the national antagonism again. There were several factors at play, and one cannot deny that among major culprits for such a turn of events were actions of the National Alliance rushly initiating signature campaign during the Summer 2011, and which proposed overhauling the present policy of language instruction, and the Zatlers Reform Party puzzling behavior during the government formation process. It is essential now for the Valdis Dombrovskis government to focus on public policy issues and untangling the obscure Krājbanka ( Savings Bank), RVR, ABC & Antonov affair. The successful result of untangling this odious affair as well as embedding the rule of law and appointing the new head of the FKTK in the parliament will foster gradual recovery of trust in banks and also the democratic institutions among the Latvian public. Why do I sound thus optimistic during the times when the Eurozone is balancing on the verge of the brake-up, and there are many rogue regimes flexing their military muscles around the globe? Because I believe in rationality in of Europeans to solve their crisis, I believe that defense capabilities of the NATO provides enough deterrent to make the NATO and EU citizens to feel safe, and last but not least the Latvian citizenry are inherently willing to build their families in peaceful and happy atmosphere. Therefore, whilst following the precepts of Almond & Verba during the 1960-70's I believe that also Latvian politicians should spend more time on policy rather than polity issues, because too much tinkering about the democratic framework issues could create quite a political fallout...

Mme Latvia [handing over SACKING OF THE PARLIAMENT medicine]: "Those drugs you prescribed me doctor do not help because what I am feeling is, that I could even loose my [native] tongue"
The Doctor: "But we cured oligarch illness after all, madam!"

Gatis Šļūka


This morning IR announced that more than 170 000 signatures have been collected by the NGO "Native tongue" in order to proceed with the constitutional amendments and introduce the Russian as the second state language in Latvia. The signature collection campaign was supported by prominent opposition politicians, including the major of Riga, and it has reopened the animosity between the Latvian and Russophone speakers again.

For opposition populist politicians to galvanize their policies on language issue could be problematic, because legally to succeed in their efforts they have quite high hurdles established by the constitutional fathers of Latvia. After the Electoral Commission will announce official results of the signature collection campaign the constitutional amendments bill must go into the parliament, and knowing the balance between government and opposition forces the bill would definitely not pass over the 2/3 threshold. The Satversme (constitution) Art. 77 says that if articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 77 are proposed to be amended, then in order to take legal effect, any of them must be affirmed by a referendum. Because now the state language is Latvian (Art. 4), it means that such constitutional amendments could be adopted only, if at least one-half of those who have the right to vote have declared themselves in their favour (Art. 79). Today there are about 1,5 million eligible voters in Latvia, thus for the signature campaign organizers the task to overcome the 700-750 000 hurdle is simply insurmountable.

This makes me to conclude that the whole signature campaign and democratic activism of the opposition politicians was to went their frustration over the emergency elections results. The rush referendum of the National Alliance during the 2011 summer played its role and there have been several authors pointing to this fact, which triggered activism of the second signature campaign. It was not the only reason, however, because the Russian language issues are lately rather symptomatically popping up in the territory of the former USSR in concerted manner. Nevertheless, as I already stated the equivocal role of the ZRP party together with the ambivalent statements of the National Alliance party did not help to calm the situation down but quite the opposite.

After all I believe that the last signature collection campaign galvanized not only Russophone, but also Latvian speakers, and the referendum result shall deliver a clear cut result leaving the Article 4 unamended. And to conclude on this positive note I must quote Dmitry from today's Diena, who took the crux of the just finished signature collection campaign into the nutshell: "To tell you honestly I am against the second state language [Russian in Latvia], but I gave my signature against the initiatives of the National Alliance this summer, which would have forced all schools to instruct only in Latvian. In the forthcoming referendum he would not participate, because if he really thinks what matters, then there does not exist language problem in Latvia."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lack of consistent policies after September 17 elections

After the September 17 snap elections the electorate is literally boiling in Latvia. The major reason for Valdis Zatlers to sack the parliament and to form his own party was the questıon of rule of law and elimination of LV oligarchy (particularly pay attention to the second & third paragraph!). Ever since the perplexing announcement last Friday night the Latvian electorate has been split in two. The reason for the split of the public opinion is not only the outdated perception of the Latvian electorate to see the politics to be divided between ethnically defined parties (which was catered by the political parties in power for the last 20 years), but also the sudden change of the list of major tasks right after the elections.

Change of the discourse after elections happens to minimum degree in many consolidated democracies. In case of Valdis Zatlers the discourse turnaround has been complete, because he pronounced the reforms of the outdated higher education system, tax code and governance modes as well as the fight against the oligarchs even on the election billboards ( see below). Since last Saturday it is barely possible to hear about reforms and ending of the IMF&EU financial aid mission or the 2012 budget, because Valdis Zatlers change of tack has enabled him to court openly with the representatives of the same party he was supposedly to stand against. It has disoriented groups of voters, and the result of such disorientation is clear, because less than month after elections 1/3 of those questioned would not vote for the party they voted barely three weeks ago, again... .

It is certain coul de sac situation now and lets hope that Valdis Dombrovksis could help the former president out from the corner he has painted himself, and return either to the status quo ante, or move into the direction of all inclusive rainbow coalition government:) It was just announced that the rainbow coalition talks have failed, thus there should be return to status quo ante... Bringing in the Harmony Center party into coalition negotiations is welcome only after ZRP and Unity have agreed on reform package and formed the nucleus of the governing coalition. After solving disagreements about certain misunderstandings in the package deal it is possible to move on with the third partner. The president has announced the deadline, and lets hope that the common sense will win and lead the Latvian electorate out of these dire straits! Hopefully the ZRP and Unity would move on and find the most qualified third partner to finish thus needed political and economic reforms before the looming world economic crisis hits hard in early 2012.





51 VOTE TOGETHER WITH UNION OF GREENS AND FARMERS AND FOR GOOD LATVIA IN 10TH SAEIMA (But with the Janis Urbanovitch (Harmony Center) on the background of the billboard)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Volatility of the Latvian political system (UPDATED)

2011 snap elections are over and my first try to get elected into the parliament was not successful. The coalition negotiations are ongoing and tough and I will elaborate on the results of previously mentioned processes more in my next blog entries. This time I am republishing a chart which clearly outlines volatility of the Latvian party political system, because every elections since regaining the independence in 1991 undecided swing voters have been migrating to the new party:)

Source: Dienas Bizness

P.S. Here are my first and second takes about LV politics in Estonian.
P.P.S. And here is my week old piece for Maaleht (in Estonian)


Here is the composition of the 11th Saeima before the new cabinet is in place, which means that 13 ministers most probably would be replaced with the MP's with a soft mandate.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Would they understand it? (UPDATED)

Emergency elections are approaching and my campaign intensity is increasing. The last two weeks will be hopefully less hectic due to the planned strategy of pinpointing the electioneering areas. After 17.09.2011 coalition government will be formed, and I am wondering whether average Latvian voters have comprehended consequences of the possible union between the Harmony Center and UGF party and stalling of economic reforms?

Source: IR


Wikileaks has provided very interesting leaks about events worldwide and Latvia has not been an exception. Those who want to understand how the Parex affair was built read this. And thanks to Nellija Ločmele there is ample of information about the formative events in Latvia from 2007 - 2009 here and here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pollsters prior 17.09.2011

Here you have "Latvijas fakti" pollster showing the latest trends. Pollsters are tricky business, because different polling firms in Latvia do show different results. I have sticked to "Latvijas Fakti" and SKDS, because they are traditional and they do show certain trends. The most obvious one is the number of undecided or swing voters and as you can see the number has declined from 35% down to 31.3%. However, there is still some way to go and the most successful of the contenders will get the biggest chunk of those 20.7% voters who simply do not know whom they are going to vote for. Also, except the insignificant pocket parties four of the most realistic contenders for getting into the Saeima - Unity, Harmony Center, Union of Greens and Farmers, and National Alliance - are showing the trend of growth. The Zatlers Reform Party support has slightly declined due to the questionable emulation of the tradition of showing who the prime ministerial candidate will be. Lets see the polls next week to grasp the dynamics of election campaign in the simultaneously transforming Latvian party political system.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In order to make predicitions you need a solid base...

Any science needs measurable quantities or substances in order to get thruthful answers. It is even more true in social sciences and the balanced development of the Western societies has given political scientists ample of time to make certain and solid predictions after the Wortld War II. Conclusions of Ron Ingelhardt, Gabriel Almon or Giovanni Sartori still hold very much to the stability of Western societies, which are gradually changing if we folow what is happening in Belgium, the US, PIGS or Mexico today. Party political systems are changing in all previously mentioned countries except the US due to the FPTP electoral system, but it explains the polarization of opinions prior last four US presidential elections, TEA party phenomenon, and many other new developments in once ''stable'' party political wheeling & dealing systems. Thus, the once easily predictable voter's behaviour is transforming and particularly in peripheral EU countries the party system volatility is increasing.

Latvia, is no exception here and the volatility of the Latvian parties is closer to the homologues in Central or South America, rather than ones in the Central Europe. The endemic corruption and state capture was practiced all those years due to the cleptocratic elites and meek populations, who were not demanding their representatives to be legitimate within the system of rule of law. Thus, the Latvian existing miniscule political parties are being remade now or there are new ones created, when finally very essential legal amendments are on the threshold (the mandatory tax and property declarations system should be introduced by January 1,2012 and ppolitical parties will be funded from the state budget as of the same date).

For the September 17, 2012 elections there will be thirteen party lists competing for the 100 seat parliament. The competition might seem fierce but in reality there are only five considerable contenders for passing the 5% entry threshold - the center right Unity, the center left Harmony Center, liberal Zatlers Reform party, the conservative National Alliance and Union of Greens and Farmers. While the center, right, left or liberal appears in the party programs Latvian parties it is still premature to call them this way, because the Latvian party political system is being remodeled at this very moment. Thus, ideologicaly based discourse is still to develop in Saeima, and for that the incumbent political forces ned legitimacy.

But the legitimacy is the crucial problem because so fgar unaccountability rules and previous oligarchic political parties disoriented voters. That explains why Latvia is so full of contrasts. While the Latvian Saeima was about to be be given way to continue its half baked reforms, the Latvian president literally interrupted the pregnancy just nine month after the 10'th Saeima was sworn in, and about 45% of Latvian voters in referendum decided to abort the stillborn parliament. Now, in the latest pollster one third of populations still proclaims that they do not know whom to vote for in forthcoming elections, and I can understand that. But then today there is a pollster where 77% of questioned believe that qualitative changes in the newly elected Saeima are impossible to expect. Also whilst following the latest Eurobarometer pollster, it becomes clear that Latvian voters do not see the light at the end of the tunnel as their Estonian neighbors for example. To put such a grim Latvian picture in a nutshell, what do you do in such a situation when people do not believe in ability to change smth. in their own environment? My short answer is - empower and educate them! For the more elaborate program and policies there will be a whole month to explain:)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

After the Latvian July 23 referendum...

The formative referendum dismissed the 10th Saeima, and the first ever emergency elections in Latvia will be held in September 17, 2011.

The time to prepare for elections is short and thus most political parties go with their old or slightly upgraded programs. Because among the Latvian populace most of the democratic institutions are dismissingly unpopular, and parliament being among them, thus many new faces have appeared on the party lists. And to make the situation even more intriguing also there is a new kid on the block, who shall try to squeeze into the Latvian party political spectrum.

Until now it is hard to predict the exact outcome of the Latvian elections, because the Latvian party political system has returned to the square one, and since the budgetary funding for the political parties will start only from 01.01.2012, we could finally start to project operations and what kind of system will be formed out from the ethnically divided and scarsely populated Latvian parties.

Because of the emergency character of those formative elections I have decided to run for the Saeima myself. This would make me to change my usual schedule and I have already started to participate in the month long election campaign sprint.

Other than that, my hunch is that the center right Unity, the center left Harmony Center (HC), the liberal Zatlers Reform (ZRP) party, the Union of Greens and Farmers as well as the conservative National Union party would get elected into the parliament. I am not sure about chances of the For Human Rights in United Latvia party as well as about the desperate maverick trying to do anything to get elected. Nevertheless, the fact is that until now about a third of electors are undecided and thus the campaign month (or better say the sprint!) will determine whether Latvian voters shall opt for the European of post-Soviet path of development. The European path would be defined by voters trusting the results of hard won reforms of the Valdis Dombrovskis government and allowing to form coalition with either the ZRP or the HC party. The opposite and hopefully non materializing path would foresee the populist politicans engineering an ethnically deterministic vote for the benefit of ''populous anarchy a'la lettica'', and thus opening Ms Latvia for uncharted waters...again:)

P.S. My latest piece in Ukrainian ''Tyzhden'' (in Ukrainian)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Formative referendum on July 23, 2011 (updated)

My usual weekend calm was interrupted by the Norwegian tragedy and flying down South to the shores of Bosphorus. Since my arrival to Turkey the Latvian Central Election commission has already sealed the official results and announced that the emergency elections would take place in September 17, 2011.

The July 23, 2011 referendum in Latvia finished the procedure of dissolution of the parliament started by the former president Valdis Zatlers with his ominous May 28 Decree No. 2. The legal pretext for dissolution of the parliament served the decision of HC party together with oligarchic Union of Greens and Farmers not to lift parliamentary immunity of an another oligarch and MP Ainars Slesers when the Corruption Prevention Bureau asked with the Riga District Court permission to search premises of ominous politician. Reasons for sacking the parliament since Latvia joined the EU have been ample however. Cynical misuse of power reached the equinox, however, in the October 2006 parliamentary elections. Those elections were plagued by misuse of illegal financing and the Supreme Court of Latvia in its November 3, 2006 verdict was slightly shy from proclaiming the 2006 elections null and void. Thus, the heavy weight of oligarchic parties misusing funds and poisoning the Latvian political culture fostered the embedded culture of alienation which has estranged Latvian voters from democratic institutions of governance. Thus, the July 23, 2011 referendum results with 44% of eligible voter’s participation rate and 95% agreeing to dissolve the parliament was not unexpected.
The sheer number who voted YEA was surprising, however, because 65% of them voted for the incumbent parliament less than a year ago in parliamentary elections. Latvian political commentators have been analyzing reasons behind such distrust of citizen’s vis-à-vis their own republic, and also why the smallest number of participants in plebiscitary voting came from Riga and Latgale electoral districts. The reasons for distrust lead us back to the early 1990’s when Latvia together with other Baltic republics regained its independence. Estonia and Lithuania had a new constitutional caucus, election law and subsequent upgrading of laws concerning public finance and governance issues. Latvian legislators rolled over the constitution of 1922 and has remained the only EU member state which neither has the mandatory tax and property declarations system nor it funds political parties with Malta from the state budget. Reasons for voters in Riga and Latgale being relatively inactive (38 and 34 % participation respectively) are twofold. First, the stagnated political culture has been embedded due to the existing oligarchic parties which have openly discouraged active civic participation during referendums last five years. Second, the majority of Riga and Latgale electoral district voters voted for the mainly russophone Harmony Center (HC) party. The latter governs Riga and most of Latgale municipalities but during the last twenty years they have metamorphosed from ethnic into social democratic party and have sat in opposition all those years.
The referendum set a unique precedent while empowering the somewhat dormant Latvian civil society. The amendment in the election law stipulates that political parties will be funded from the state budget as of January 1, 2012, and many other legal innovations since the May 28, 2011 presidential decree No. 2 have strengthened the rule of law in Latvia. The only concern is the fact that in terms of party political development Latvia has returned to square one or at the point where it started in the early 1990’s. The Latvian party political system was poisoned by the ethnically determined division in right wing Latvian and left wing Russian speaking political parties. Since last elections the trend is for parties to determine its policies on social and economic issues. Thus, while the consolidation of political parties took place the political unions were not so much based on pragmatic ideologically similar platform. Thus, we may witness the plethora of new political parties being formed and some older political parties trying to merge now on the identical ideological foundations.
Such process is welcome but just two months prior emergency elections it is hard to predict how qualitative the newly formed parties will be and how well they will be able to expose the ‘’hoppers’’ from the formerly oligarchic parties. Thus, former president Zatlers Reform Party has announced itself as liberal force and thus will have to compete with catch all mechanisms for the same voter as the Unity political bloc which should merge its three constitutive parts into the right to the center political party on August 6. It is positive that there are now distinct liberal, conservative and centrist parties, but what Latvian body politics is really missing is the social democratic or progressive political force. Thus, this open niche is filled by the HC party which uses populist slogans but has not established efficient relations with the trade unions.
Therefore, while stable and leading position of HC in polls continues probably the 35-40% of undecided or swing voters will determine the election outcome. Also, I must remind here that HC party has been leadind the polls both BY Latvıjas Fakti and SKDS firms for the last three years, but they became second during last year's parliamentary elections. The latest polls showed significant decrease of support from the HS, Unity, Nationalist Bloc and Union of Greens and Farmers. The Zatlers Reform Party (ZRP) has very good starting positions but the hard labor of creating party base and little monies for the campaign will probably determine their abılıties to hold a successful campaign.


Initially the ethnically defined National bloc and HC are gaining strength from the dissolution of the parliament. Successful outcome of September 17 elections will be determined by the ability of the successful political parties to create jobs, decrease unemployment and embed the rule of law however. Neither of ethnically defined parties have been able to seriously compete on those issues so far. Therefore, the major contenders for the formation of government coalition will be the governing Unity, ZRP and HC parties, while National Bloc, Union of Greens and Farmers and maybe First and Latvian Way party union would have to compete among themselves for passing the required 5% threshold for entering into the parliament.

p.s. My previous statements from the interview in ERR were actually uttered while thinking that ceteris paribus nothing will change prior elections, but since May 28, 2011 Latvia has become ''richer'' with 3 new parties, and 2 former electoral unions merging into 2 distinct parties

p.p.s. Here are my latest articles for those reading in Latvian, and Ukrainian

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Basketball and elections in the Baltics 2011

Even though Latvia prepares for the hot electioneering after the July 23 referendum about the dispersal of the Saeima there is ordinary life still going on. In addition there are also elections in Estonia this summer, when the new president should be elected in the Riigikogu. The decision of Indrek Tarand (MEP) to become a contender along Toomas Hendrik Ilves in August 27, 2011 presidential elections has added spice to the usually calm Estonian political climate. While the Estonian politicians debate the historic legacy of the incumbent president one may predict that probably some of the discussions would focus on pros and cons of the popularly elected vs. parliamentary elected head of state problematique.

Latvian incumbent president Valdis Zatlers would probably try to continue overhauling the Latvian oligarchy. After his ominous Decree No. 2 in May 28. 2011 there are some very significant changes taking place in the Latvian parliament already. After wrangling for two years the head of the KNAB was finally popped with 82 YEA votes and only two MP's abstained. Also the parliament in its last session prior the summer recess lowered the limits for the election campaign financing by half, opened the way for MP's to be prosecuted if the Prosecutors office or Supreme Court decides so. The amendments in the Commercial Act would finally allow judicial branch to learn the beneficiaries of the offshore companies in Latvia. And last but not least the the head of the Constitutional Court officially announced that the ill qualified member of the Constitutional Court Vineta Muižniece probably has no way of return to work at the Supreme Court. The previously mentioned member of the court was suspended from her duties, because she is facing criminal proceedings for fraud while being the head of the Legal Committee of the Parliament.

Political process is slowly euroepanized in Latvia but parliamentary elections would probably bring only scanty changes. If one thinks about the long term sustainability of the Latvian democracy then the public initiatives, which started after famous "funerals of oligarchs", could probably ensure embededness of civic participation in Latvia. Estonia would further develop en route of becoming another boring Nordic state, and the summer would be spent in vacationing mood. It would actually be a perfect moment for many tourists who would be coming to Lithuania for the Eurobasket 2011, or allowing the basketball to be played in country where the game could be equated with religion. Also many Latvian fans are grateful to the Eurobasket 2011 organizers, because the Latvian men's squad would be playing its preliminary round in Siauliai, the town situated almost on the Latvian border.

While there is dim hope for Latvian men's team reaching beyond the preliminary stage there is little doubt that Mr Kemzura's squad would be willing to show the best Lithuanian krepsinis has to offer. In the meantime Latvian fans are following with keen interest another Eurobasket. While Lithuanian fans can cheer on about a very good performance of their ladies squad Latvian team made headlines only tonight. L'Equipe header tonight: "retour sur terre!" explains it all, because Latvian women's squad managed to work hard and deservedly won the reigning European champions. The midsummer night and biggest festivities of the year are approaching, and on June 23-24 the cities will empty in Latvia and Estonia. In the meantime while Lithuanian ladies will have to play themselves out from the media clout of their male colleagues, it is the Latvian male basketball players who have to find ways around the better playing female colleagues. Enjoy the basketball and smile about the politics in the Baltic States this summer!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

After the 2011 Latvian presidential elections

Even though he is not a party member, he was elected on the Union of Farmers and Greens party list into the parliament and on June 2, 2011 Andris Bērziņš became the 7th democratically elected president of Latvia. More thorough analysis would follow in couple of days, but the overall mood in Latvia those days could not be better depicted by Gatis Šļūka.

[Oh my god! I have lost my way...]

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 2, 2011 presidential elections in the Latvian parliament

Its about couple of hours until the presidential elections in the Latvian parliament will start. Latvia is a classical parliamentary republic with 100 representatives electing the president once in four years. Today its time for reelecting the incumbent candidate, or choosing a new one after the last Saturday' s announcement which caused only small tremors until now, but hopefully would overhaul the whole Latvian governing edifice. Delfi has published historic review of how the presidential elections were taking place for the last twenty years. I very much hope that today's decision would be the last one with MP's politicking...:)

There is an ooutright war announced against self made minigarhic politicians and the Corruption Prevention Bureau is doing its job while the head of the bureau was on the leave, thus its time to pop this nuisance as well.

The optimal result of today's elections should help Latvia proceed with its structural reforms in economic and political system. While at the end of the year the IMF financial assistance should be terminated, Latvia could have a steely president, public cleaned of corrupt politicians and public officials, new parliament elected - a true RESET of democratic rule! Thus, the Latvian people could have a fresh start - and this is what I wish prior the outcome of today's vote in the parliament:)

p.s. Here are pieces 1, 2, 3, 4 for the Estonian readers

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Politiskās partijas, vides stabilizācija un nākotnes skices (atbilde Alehinam)

Esmu pieķēries emuāra ierakstam uz kuru pamudināja mans vēstuļu draugs. Disertācija un darba pienākumi nav ļāvuši laiku veltīt emuāru pierakstiem, lai arī dažkārt radās sajūta, ka varbūt vajadzēja vairāk pievērsties rakstībai brīvā formā. Tomēr laiks ir ierobežots, un tāpēc ar šo ierakstu centīšos ne tikai izvērst aprakstu par virsrakstā norādīto tēmu, bet arī iespēju robežās centīšos atbildēt uz Alehina uzdotajiem jautājumiem.

Latvijas politisko partiju jeb interešu grupu attīstība 2007-2009 satricinājumu rezultātā ir tēlaini izsakoties nonākusi atpakaļ 1991.g. sākumpunktā. Rietumu tradīcijas kopš I. Pasaules kara noteikušas, ka politisku partiju no interešu vai spiediena grupas atšķir skaidra ideoloģiska nostādne un masveidīgums. Aukstā kara beigas, tehnoloģiju un izglītības ietekme ir mainījušas tradicionālas Rietumu sabiedrības, jeb kā R.Inglehart to apzīmēja, ir notikusi "klusā revolūcija". Individuālisms un salīdzinošais labklājības pieaugums ir mainījis ierastos uzvedības paradumus, samazinājis vēlētāju uzticību politiskajām partijām labējā kā arī kreisajā socioekonomiskajā flangā. Šīs izmaiņas ir ietekmējušas Austrumeiropas valstis, un to skaitā ari Latviju.

Īss ievads

1990.g. sākumā Tautas Frontes un Interfrontes politiskās apvienības bija noteicošie spēki Augstākajā Padomē (AP), no kuriem tad pakāpeniski izšķīlās LC, Saskaņa Latvijai, Līdztiesība, Zemnieku savienība, Demokrātiskā partija Saimnieks, Tautsaimnieku politiskā apvienība, TB, Tautas saskaņas partija un "nemanot" izzuda LKP(!). Bija pārstāvēta arī Zaļā partija un LNNK, un patiesībā tas ir nozīmīgi, jo tieši šajās kustībās (domāju VAK un LNNK) bija pilsonisko grupu pārstāvji kuri atšķirībā no kādreizējās LKP nomenklatūras veidoja vienīgo t.s. grassroots alternatīvu 5.Saeimā (lai arī Zaļie neguva pārstāvniecību un iekļuva 1991.g. dibinātie Kristīgie Demokrāti).

Politiskā vide bija kļuvusi sadrumstalota, sekojot AP divu lielāko pol. apvienību tradīcju inercei Latvijā izveidojās politisko kultūru turpmākos gadus indējošais dalījums etniski definētajās partijās. 1992.g. ar modifikācijām pieņemtais vēlēšanu likums ļāva nodrošināt zināmu sistēmas stabilitāti, jo ierindas Latvijas vēlētāju bija vienkārši mānīt ar 5. kolonnu un citiem mītiem. Bez tik nepieciešamajām disksijām sabiedrībā atjaunojot 1934.g. 15. maijā pātraukto Satversmes darbību, vienošanās par valsts turpmāko attīstību nebija notikusi, kura ļāva izveidot auglīgu augsni SIA Latvijas republika... Visam pa vidu likumdevējiem "aizmirsās" mantas un nodokļu sākumdeklarēšanās, tik nepieciešamās reformas policijā, izglītībā, veselības aizsardzībā, un sociālā nodrošinājuma sistēma tika atliktas (jo īstermiņa intereses prevalēja) un "tautiskā anarhija" varēja netraucēti turpināties līdz pat 2007.g., kad pilsoniskā sabiedrība atkal pamodās, un vienam premjeram nomainot otru, beidzot nonācām līdz Valdim Dombrovskim.

Dombrovska valdība|s un V

Pieņemu, ka nozīmīgākais iemesls, kāpēc V.Dombrovskis 2009.g. martā pārņēma varas grožus, bija apjukums Latvijas tradicionālajā politiskajā nomenklatūrā, kura vairs nemācēja izžonglēt sev optimālāko varas nepārtrauktības formulu. To ietekmēja starptautiskā finanšu krīze un ES līdzdalības paģērētās poltiskās pārmaiņas ar kuru dziļumu nomenklatūras pārstāvji iespējams nebija rēķinājušies. Tāpēc veicot valsts un pašvaldību pārvaldes aparāta un funkciju sanāciju visupirms no "kuģa nolēca" TP. Valdošajā koalīcijā viedokļu saskaņošana "sanācijas apstākļos" noteikti atšķiras no tautsaimniecības izaugsmes laika. Tāpēc skatoties uz 2010.g. 3. novembrī apstiprināto valdošās koalīcijas modeli, var teikt tik to, ka "sanācijas apstākļi" turpinās, partiju politiskajā attīstībā esam back in square one. Līdz ar to patiesībā partiju veidošana vienlaicīgi ar valsts pārvaldes sistēmas transformācijām nav tās pateicīgākās nodarbes skatoties no īstermiņa ieguvumu viedokļa, jo reitingi kritīs...

Neskatoties uz reitingiem Valdis Dombrovskis ar savu mieru palīdz kabinetam mērķtiecīgi turpināt pārvaldes sistēmas sanāciju, kaut arī ir sfēras kurā sistēmas attīrīšana nav notikusi tik ātri un dziļi, kā daži varbūt būtu vēlējušies. Reformu ātrumu un dziļumu noteikti ietekmē valdošo politisko partiju apvienību darbības principi un lēmumu pieņemšanas ātrums. "Vienotībā" (V) notiekošo vislabāk raksturo spīvās diskusijas parlamenta frakcijā, un, ja arī dažkārt V valdes vai vadītāja lēmumi nav skaidri, tad tos frakcijā vai valdes sēdēs ir iespējams izdiskutēt. Šis process ir laikietilpīgs, bet demokrātisks. V vēlētāji un atbalstītāji ir dažādu strāvojumu atbalstītāji, jo V pēc būtības ir centriska partiju apvienība kura apvieno ekonomiski liberālus, nacionāli konservatīvus un sociāli liberālus pārstāvjus.

Šobrīd diskusiju rezultātā veidojas platforma kuras rezultātā iepriekš minētajiem pārstāvjiem būs pašiem jānosaka - kāda tad būs centriskās V ideoloģija. Šis darbs notiek, un no sākotnējām diskusijām var noprast, ka centriskā V būs ar sociāli atbildīgu tautsaimniecības programmu un ne tik nacionāli konservatīva, kā piemēram LZS vai VL. Viedokļu saskaņošana nav no vienkāršajām, bet strīdos dzimst taisnība. Tikai no partiju administratīvās darbības uzturēšanai varēs izmantot budžeta naudu, tāpēc šobrīd Latvijas partijām vai partiju pavienībām jāiztiek no biedru naudām un ziedojumiem. Kombinācija, kur uzticības zudums nozīmīgajām demokrātiskas pārvaldes institūcijām iet roku rokā ar iedzīvotāju nomācošo vairākumu, kuri nevēlas darboties ne partijās ne arī sabiedriskajās organizācijās, nav no labākajām. Tomēr, lai arī LV iedzīvotāju uzticība ir ļoti zema salīdzinot ar Skandināvijas valstu un Igaunijas uzticības rādītājiem pārvaldes institūcijām, tomēr pēdējais Eurobarometer pētījums ļauj izdarīt pieņēmumu par sistēmas stabilizāciju salīdzinot ar 2007-2009.g. graujošajiem uzticības rādītājiem. Sistēmas stabilizācija ir pozitīva un ļauj cerēt, ka no SIA Latvija republika evolucionārā ceļā ir iespējams nonākt līdz Rietumu pasaulē pieņemtas demokrātiskās konsolidācijas, kur pilsoņu līdzdalība ietekmē valsts salīdzinošo labklājību un pozīcijas starptautiskajā sistēmā. Tāpēc nobeidzot šo polemisko atbildi "epistulārajam līdzcīnītājam" centīšos ieskicēt tuvāko nākotni.

V un turpmākā ceļa karte

Gata Kokina iezīmētais scenārijs ir tikai viens no nākotnes redzējumiem. Ļoti raupji analizējot šodienas situāciju Latvijā mums ir izveidojusies situācija kur partiju politiskajā līmenī mums izveidojusies viena pilsētas un viena lauku latviešu partiju apvienība, krievu partiju apvienība, un vesels lērums sīkpartiju.

Šāda situācija nav optimāla jo turpina etnisko dalījumu kurš iepriekšējos gados ir indējis politisko vidi. Lai arī SC vidē ir ļaudis kuri fano par Somijas piemēru ar zviedru minoritāti domāju, ka viņi īsti neizprot Somijas vēsturi (Zviedru etniskās minoritātes loma atbalstot Somijas valstiskumu un vēlāk atbalsts Somijas iekļaušanai Ziemeļvalstu saimē), un nākotnes izvērsumā šodienas SC varētu cierēt, ja tad, uz RKP lomu. Tomēr SC loma un nākotne ir cits temats, un tāpēc atgriezīšos pie V.

Dibinot partijas un piedaloties Eiropas integrācijas procesā tiek izmantoti vēsturiski piemēri. Eiropas vecās demokrātijas zinām ar skaidri nepārprotamiem partiju nosaukumiem un tās var kalpot par gana labiem ceļa rādītājiem, lai arī ir pretēji piemēri:) Latvijas piemēri - LC, Saimnieks, Jaunais Laiks, Saskaņas Centrs, SCP, Atbildība - ir radījuši ne tikai neizpratni manu kolēģu vidū par partiju socioekonomisko orientāciju, bet tie ir dezorientējuši arī Latvijas vēlētāju un padarījuši tos imūnus pret Latvijas demokrātisko elitārismu. Tāpēc, piemēram, pirms SCP 2010.g. kongresa piedāvāju apdomāt vai nebūtu lietderīgi nosaukt SCP par Centra vai Liberālo centra partiju, tomēr pārāk neuzstāju uz šo risinājumu, jo tajā brīdī bija svarīgāki jautājumi risināmi. Šodienas Latvijas situācijā lieti der pārfrāzēt bijušo Krievijas premjeru Černomirdinu: "ka pēc PSRS sabrukuma veidojot jaunas partijas bijusi vēlme veidot ko savādāku, bet galu galā sanācis PSKP". Tomēr, vērojot šodienas politisko vidi Latvijā secinu, ka ne visi politiskie veidojumi ir "atsitušies goda un sirdzsapziņas partijā", lai arī partiju iekšējai demokratizācijai vēl darba pulka (domnīcas, ideoloģiski informatīvo materiālu sagatavošana, ētikas komisijas, vēlētāju izglītošanas pasākumi un tml.)

Veidojot V šobrīd neredzu tās ligas kuras vajājušas demokrātiskā centrālisma principu vadītas izbijušas partijas. Dažādu strāvojumu V cilvēkos redzu vēlmi veikt tās reformas kuras pēdējos 20.g. atliktas (0 deklarācija, progresīvais nodoklis, komerclikuma un vēlēšanu likuma izmaiņas utt. un tjpr.), jeb demontēt AAA komandas loloto SIA Latvijas republiku. Paredzu, ka iestarpināsi par V koalīcijas partneri, bet vienīgā atbilde šobrīd: "tiesiskas valsts dzirnas maļ lēnām, bet pamatīgi". Visupirms sagaidīsim Anglijas un Velsas Augstākās Tiesas lēmumu, un tad jau varēsim mērīt sadarbības temperatūru koalīcijā. Pēc šo likumu institucionalizācijas neizbēgama būs Latvijas politikas vides nostabilizēšanās un politiskās kultūras daļēja uzlabošanās. Tomēr tautsaimniecības izaugsmes tempu pieaugumu pieredzēsim tikai tad, ja iedzīvotāji turpinās iesaistīties sabiedrības pārvaldē, un neļaus valdībai un Saeimai gulēt uz sasniegtā lauriem, pieprasīs likuma varu un būs neiecietīgi pret korupciju un tml.

Tāpēc runājot par SCP un tās rīcību secinājums ir vienkāršs, SCP reitingi bija objektīvu iemeslu radīti. Lai arī vēlme bija ieņemt "brīvo sociāldemokrātisko|progresīvo nišu" tomēr politiķu ambīcijas, LSDSP implozija un Latvijas vēlētāju inerce saistīt progresīvu politiku ar etnisku piederību nepalīdzēja šo jautājumu risināt īstermiņā. Ja mēs tagad skatamies vēsturē uz SocDem partiju attīstību, tad tradicionāli tās izauga no arodbiedrību kustības, neapmierinātiem elites pārstāvjiem, vai vienkāršās strādniecības. Progresīvo politisko ideju pārstāvniecība šodien Latvijā ir sadrumstalota, līdzīgi kā konservatīvā vai liberālā pārstāvniecība. Tāpēc SCP, PS un JL lēmums par saplūšanu Vienotības partijā nav vērtējama vienkārši kā ilgtermiņa panaceja, bet galvenokārt kā stabilizējošs līdzeklis 20.g. atlikto reformu risināšanai un LV partiju politikas eiropeizācijai.

Demokrātiskās sistēmas konsolidācijai Latvijā būs nepieciešama ne tikai esošo politisko partiju darba pārvērtēšana, bet arī pilsonisko grupu aktivizēšanās zemākajā (grass roots level) līmenī. Vēl interesantāku šo situāciju padara LV dalība ES, jo neesam tālu no tā brīža, lai no Eiropas Parlamenta politiskajām grupām veidotos kaut kas līdzīgs pan-Eiropas politiskajām partijām. Tas gan ir jau cits temats, un pirms tam Latvijas 10.Saeimai un valdībai ir jābeidz virkne reformu, kurām būs jānostiprina likuma vara un jākalpo par socioekonomiskās ideoloģijās sakņotu pamatu daudzskaitlīgu liberālu, konservatīvu, progresīvu un centrisku politisku partiju attīstībai.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Debates in the Lettish parliament

Foreign policy debates in the Lettish parliament are back to stay! One may wonder why I am so confident about it? Answer is rather simple, because the logic of political debate determines that one must discuss something that is appealing to the average voter's ears and foreign policy issues will always sound better than marginal change of value added tax or change of transformation of urban zoning law etc. It was positive to witness thus many ambassadors present in person and swarming of TV crews which tried to make yesterday's event into media event.

Even though the Minister of Foreign Affairs slipped his tongue in a funny way the debates in the parliament showed consensus - that irrespective of the political affiliation all the political groups in the parliament publicly support ongoing and present strategic goals of the Republic of Latvia. Debates looked dry from the first instant and if not Atis Lejiņš public speech endowments the whole event could be characterized as a dry bureaucratic occasion.

Also the former prime minister created quite a stir when contrary to his party traditional position he came out of a closet to support the creation of the United States of Europe. Janīna Kursīte tried to keep her Baltic line and referred to the problems stemming from the irony that Latvians and Lithuanians have to mutually learn about the developments in neighbors' country through the means of Russian media. Several MP's and the Minister of Defense emphasized the need to invest more in programs of development assistance particularly keeping in mind Latvian efforts with other coalition partners to reconstruct the civil war torn Afghanistan. Debates lasted almost five hours and institutionalized a new tradition in the Lettish parliament. Gradually Latvian political life returns back to normal but to announce that normalcy has returned to the economically worse hit EU member state there are still very specific structural reforms to be done.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Foreign policy continues the domestic one

Exactly ninety years ago Entente powers recognized Estonia and Latvia de jure. Due to such an important commemoration there were special events organized both in Latvia and Estonia. Personally attended the occasion in Riga, which was jointly organized by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassade de France a Riga, and well attended. Presentations were extremely rich with historic data that was arbitrarily "forgotten" or not known in the Latvia during the interwar period and the following Soviet occupation. To commemorate this date also foreign policy debates are back in the Latvian parliament. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs produced a document and yesterday the Foreign Affairs Committee held its preliminary session with the most prominent Latvian foreign policy experts present.

Today there will be a possibility to observe public speech endowments of the Latvian MP's and ministers. The reason why I said that foreign policy debates are back in the parliament is the fact that from 2005 - 2010 rational and productive debates about any policy issues were actually absent from the Latvian talking shop (parliamentary debates in old democracies are mostly used to discuss policy issues and not only to push YEA and NAY buttons). Since the 2010 parliamentary elections the culture of political debates is back in the Latvian parliament, and I have witnessed it for the last 2 months. Foreign policy debatee in today's parliament could institute a tradition to have annual foreign policy debates in the parliament not only to commemorate foundations of the republic, but also to give the law giving branch of power to exercise its powers at its fullest. Also it is symbolic that due to this special occasion the speaker of the Latvian parliament was in Tallinn to discuss the upgrading of the work of the Baltic Assembly in order to give a new dimension for the good neighborly relations between the Baltic States.

All the previously mentioned events signify reappearance of fresh ideas among Latvian policy makers. However, they also signify that there are still ample to do in Latvia in order not only to have wholesome foreign policy debates in the parliament, but also to provide the Latvian public with means to discuss foreign policy on daily basis and to enable them to understand the fast changing global environment. This fact actually makes Estonia thus different from Latvia even though my Estonian colleagues would remind me that the Estonian situation is far from perfect. Indeed, Estonian situation cannot compete with Scandinavian countries or world's traditional powers yet when we want to analyze possibilities and mechanisms for wholesome foreign policy making, nurturing foreign policy experts, and enlightening the general public. Also the last argument is contestable because there is no country in the world where governments should take a duty in enlighting its general public about foreign policy issues, because those are mostly travails of free media.

And free media is the fact that distinguishes Latvia from Estonia among many other things. There are objective reasons for Latvia falling in a Freedom House rankings during past years. But my personal observations during last twenty years allow me to conclude that structurally media environments in two countries differ. It is not even the issue about the social science journals which have gradually evaporated into thin air in Latvia. The best example is if one compares contents of the Latvian and Estonian public media - in the Latvian TV there is one and half (!) program about foreign affairs if one considers the weekly De Facto as a program that from time to time covers also foreign policy issues. Also there is no such thing as the Estonian KUKU radio with its culture of political debate in Latvia. Finally the creation of the Estonian Public Broadcasting have started synergy on news making and allows to capitalize on being the best global source of the Estonian language news & culture. At the same time Latvian Public TV and Radio must compete with other commercial TV and radio stations in already lost battle for better ratings.

Also after the Latvian TV went digital there are still households who cannot adjust their old TV sets and thus afford viewing TV, and there are still areas particularly in Eastern Latvia where Russian and Bielorussian TV and radio reign supreme. Whenever you cross Latvian border to Estonia or Lithuanian the Latvian radio literally disappears from car radio after some ten kilometers of drive. Quite the contrary is with the Estonian and Lithuanian radio, because I use to listen Lithuanian news in my car in Riga and Estonian radio all the way until Bērzukrogs. So much about the technological capacity of the Latvian public broadcasters and I better wrap up in order to participate in today's debates in Saeima.

Traditionally the foreign policy starts at home with continuous increase of the governing capacity. Local public broadcasting is a particular area that has been neglected in Latvia for quite some time. Institution with a funny name - the National Electronic Media Council - is independent entity by law, but still being politically influenced without much transparency in their deliberations. In order to see new electronic media law being passed, the previously mentioned institution upgraded, and possibly new Latvian Pubic Broadcaster formed an agreement must first be formed in the present governing coalition. Until there is no such agreement it is futile to expect positive and Europeanized transformations in this field. After hopefully fruitful debates in the Saeima today it could eventually turn out as a next priority for the Unity political union in order to transform the Latvian public broadcasters into news source which could ensure continuation of broadcasting of an informed political debates and gradual transformation of the culture of political discussions.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chips fall whenever an ax cuts...

I have resumed posting... Interrupted my blogging activities because of my new duties and learning new responsibilities took some month to learn. Because I am combining new duties with my academic work there was the end of the year duties grading student's exams and essays, then Season's holidays and now finally there is a time and reasons for resuming blogging activities.

In the first post since resuming my blogging activities I have to write about events in Latvia again, even though there are several positive developments in the three Baltic States lately. Estonia joining Eurozone is just one example and my longer analysis will soon appear in pages of the Baltic Times. Also the prime ministers of 3B just returned from a very laborious visit to London which would possibly turn quite an interesting page for the development of the European North.

But now lets get down to business, because even though at the first instant the news would sound as a rather insignificant skirmish it eventually could turn out as another pseudo scandal in Latvia. After last parliamentary elections the opposition Harmony Center (HC) party increased its representation in the 100 member Latvian parliament to 29. The fact that opposition party increases its ranks is nothing new, because in the meantime HC also mismanaged its possibility to be a part of the expanded national unity government.

The present problem with the HC leader foaming and populist politicians increasing their political capital continues the inertia of uneducated political discourse in Latvia. The problem with MP Kravcovs not knowing Latvian language is primarily his personal problem and the fact that Mr Kravcovs was included into the party list shows also rather peculiar attitudes of the HC party. To those who have not followed development of this pseudo problem MP Kravcovs Latvian language abilities are thus scanty, that he needed translator's aid while being member of the Liepaja Town Council. The problem is that there is different legal regulation and while translator can take part in town council meetings it becomes problematic in the parliament sessions due to the intensity of work. Instead of leaving the problem for HC to solve internally the members of another opposition party and the State language inspection have started procedure of determining whether MP Kravcovs follows the law. I think that the opposition MP's and Language inspection with their latest activities give a wrong signal, because they want to deal with effects and not causes of the problem. MP Kravcovs pseudo problem is something that should be discussed from the point of view of efficiency of the parliamentary work not knowledge of language.

Therefore I want to reemphasize that the problem of MP Kravcovs not knowing the Latvian language is primarily his and his political party problem, because in reality there are 29-1 HC members of parliament, when "language less" MP Kravcovs in reality is able to perform only his stunt duties. It also shows that Latvian language is not an issue the HC party really care, if they did not filter skills & abilities of their candidates prior including them into the election lists. Or maybe HC party was thus upbeat, that they really thought that they will simply cruise to home base in 2010 October elections and did not pay attention to such issues?

Anyway, the MP Kravcovs pseudo problem is an example how during the last twenty years both the Russophone and Latvian populist politicians engineered profitable discourse that allowed them to get elected. The chips fall whenever ax cuts to paraphrase the all problematique here, and unfortunately traditionally Latvian politicians have focused only on chips... Since last elections, when Latvian electorate showed its mature determination with assigning sixty percent of the former MP's into the heap of history, Latvian civil society witnessed certain rebirth. Therefore I hope that the MP Kravcovs pseudo problem would naturally get extinct, and MP's would continue to work with policy issues that would ensure Latvian politicians to focus also on ax & tree or overhauling stagnated political and economic structure.