Saturday, December 29, 2007

Unwillingness to rule

Last days of the 2007 are passing away and it is finally possible to fully look back on the politically eventful year. After parliamentary elections (that promised stability of the right wing government transition) in October 2006 everything was turned upside down throughout 2007. First, it was discovered that the biggest winners of the parliamentary elections - Peoples (TP) and First Christian (LC/LPP) parties - stole the elections with illegal election campaign financing. The rest of events - illegal changes in the law of security organizations, arrest of the maire of Ventspils, questionable election process of the president, the summer referendum, resignation of the speaker of the Saeima, willingness of the PM Aigars Kalvītis to sack the head of the Anti Corruption Agency (KNAB), and finally demonstrations following this row of events - were a response to the false belief of the coalition parties about their election ''victory''. It is widely believed that bad behaviour promotes vices and the year 2007 in Latvia is the best example of such belief.

The fact that intelligentsia and foreign diplomats had to remind Latvian politicians about their questionable acts only fostered continued political culture of irresponsibility. The consequence of such governance was exeplified by the Latvian politicians mere willingnes to stay at power BUT not to rule! Latvian political elite followed into footsteps of the Soviet nomenklatura when nobody wanted to take resonsibility for their acts. In the Soviet regime collective ideals prevailed and it was tricky to take private initiative without thinking about possible repercussions from the godfathers of the collective clan - be it politburo, gang of old Komsomol or simply old schoolmates. There are those naturaly evolving leaders who were actually never accepted as leaders by the rest of the society, but who insisted for themselves that they have the will to stay in power. The will of power is the only drive for such folks and questions of ethics and moral behaviour are utterly foreign to them, because they perceive the world around them in Machiavellian competition ground, where all other members of the society act similarly to themselves. Will for power is very much part of the totalitarian rule and therefore such "leaders" believe that populist masses should blindly follow them. It is impossible for them to accept existence of critical dicussions, heterogenous group behaviour, and aspects of multiculural global governance that comes into our everyday life through the consumer culture of liberal capitalism.

There are thus many examples of unwillingness to rule in Latvia that it is hard to mention all of them. Just the latest came last week when the new government was formed. Whilst Ivars Godmanis was forming the government nobody was really willing to become minister of education, economics and interior. Although the PM is the nominal leader of the cabinet the Latvian tradition follows the bad example of ministries being fiefdoms for singular ministers. Thus, the PM traditionally does not take responsibility for the acts of cabinet as the whole, but delegates the responsibility at will to singular ministers. In such a situation legitimate question arises, why is the post of the PM needed at all, if he never takes any responsibility for his acts, but simply delegates to the ministers? Aye, and I can imgaine that the answer would be that in Latvia PM has the task of heading the coalition government, but what about the promise to look after true public interest - simple promises?

Regardless of the new cabinet there are record queues on the Latvian - Russian border, food processing plants are bought by more effective Scandinavians or Lithuanians. There were Latvian IT firms offering Latvian government very efective and immediate solution to the endemic system of trucks queueing up in rural and uninhabited Latgale. Former minister of interior and present PM was unwilling to meddle into innovative approach, and so only fostered the prevailing culture of bribe giving and tax evasion on the Latvian-Russian border. There are about 25 corrupt customs officials detained already.

In the tourism industry former maire of Riga was able to operate the ferry line only through shady deals in the Riga City government. Now, luckily, the Riga Seaport allows Estonian Tallink to operate from Riga to Stockholm, and Ventspils port authority allows Estonian and Scandinavian companies to operate in its Swedish and Saaremaa shipping routes. There are no Latvian entrepreneurs, however, because it is widely known in Latvia that in order to start a serious business one must give a tithe to the corrupt politician.

The governor of the Bank of Latvia was warning about Latvian overheated economy already at the end of 2005, but those entitled to rule only accepted half baked anti - inflation plan in September 2007. In February 2007 there was a tragedy in Courland when Reģi elderly home burned down due to the inattentiveness of officials. It was expected that the Minister of Welfare would resign. Dagnija Staķe could not overhaul the work of the Ministry although experts gave her multitude of proposals, and she finally left the sinking government of Aigars Kalvītis in order to be eligible to the compensation in amount of minister's three monthly wages. The whole principle of such compensation is sick and only promotes the culture of irresponsibility!

Members of the governing coalition are wondering about the sudden dissatisfaction of broad layers of the society. In the meantime they were never willing to inquire how the goverment and civic society in Latvia interacts. There are several civil servants and also some present ministers who foolishly believe that the long term security of Latvia is guarded by mere membership in the EU and NATO. Thus, the open courting with Russia is considered as something natural. To me such behaviour of Latvian politicians looks suicidal, and in addition it does not help to europeanize the Latvian post-Soviet and stagnant governance culture.

Present political elite are not able to provide new strategy for Latvia as a member of multilateral international organizations in the ever shrinking world. Any critique from members of the civil society is perceived among the traditional elite as a conspiracy of international financiers against sacred and natural "sovereign right" to continue the culture of nepotism and graft.

Unwillingness to rule and fooling the electorate, foreign partners and themselves cannot continue indefinitely. Present government coalition is trying to solve the problems that were made by themselves. It was Latvian Transport Supremo who continued reiterating the slogan "ACCELERATE THE ECONOMY" and "the problem in Latvia is not small expenditures, but small incomes of people" thoroughout last two years. The same minister was the first who was secured his place in the government as a transport minister. He is still very expressive in his public pronouncements and accuses the European Commission and its Competition Council in Latvia as preventing his business to "accelerate". The same person now does not want to take the responsibility and become the minister of economics, because he publickly announced that his business deals with Russian partners in transport sector are more important than the state of overall economy.

The mediocricity of the Latvian political elite is endemic and without snap elections and new political party coming on the scene one should not expect stretegic improvements of the Latvian governance culture. The government of Ivars Godmanis has formed his interim government to secure mere power for bunch of individuals. While the overall unwillingness to rule prevails civil society is trying to consolidate in Latvia. There were good news from Poland after snap elections this year, and I very much hope that the Polish scenario would be repeated in Latvia.

Happy New Year! Laimīgu Jauno Gadu! Head Uut Aastat!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mandatory income declaration law and an interview

Today's Diena has short interviews with the Saeima Head of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Ombudsman, Kārlis Leiškalns and Romāns Apsītis, respectively. Newspaper asked both officials about possibility to pass the mandatory income declaration law in Latvia. Such law, which should have been a basis for coherent functioning of the Internal revenue service in any democratic country, is inexcusably delayed in Latvia. Tactics of the governing coaliton is the usual culture of delay and irressponsibility. While ombudsman in his interview has promised to give the verdict to the law by mid January, Kārlis Leiškalns reiterates that he DOES NOT LIKE such law at all. The latter announcement is nothing extraordinary, because he came up with such news half a year ago and again a week ago, just prior the new government was elected by the parliament.

Formal bone of contention of the new law is the amount of cash. The present project of the law stipulates that amount of cash in ones pockets that exceeds hundred minimal monthly wages in Latvia (circa Ls160 or EUR230 minimum monthly wage projected for 2008) should be trasferred to ones bank account prior January 1, 2008. The Saeima budget committee has asked the Ombudsman for advice, whether such demand does not contradict human rights. Ombudsman in his interview does not give a clear answer whether it will look on this issue from the point of view of bona fide principle. Ombudsman praises the value of new law but mostly talks about technical issues. Instead of that I would simply wish to see that he would compare the Latvian situation with one in Scandinavian countries, because I cant imagine that for example Wallenberg family members or Jorma Ollila would openly insinuate Swedish and Finnish authorities about curtailing their human rights by simply asking them to declare their wealth.

The whole minset of Kārlis Leiškalns simply supports the idea of oligarchy and not democracy. And what about other EU countries that have such law, why should Latvia devise a new bicycle? Latvia's neighbors Estonia and Lithuania have such law since the early 1990's and I have not heard that there would be ANY former politician claiming that tax and property declarartion law would be somehow curtailing their human rights.

The former barman Kārlis Leiškalns at the end of interview assumes that the new law would be probably passed in third reading somwhere in February 2008. Nevertheless, the last comment just crowns the traditional indifference of Latvian politicians. Mr Leiškalns ends with the conclusion, "that I cant tell you the date of the law coming into force - because the Ministry of Finance [who made and promoted the law] is the one who tells how to act, so we will act as they tell us." Mr Leiškalns openly does not like the passing the law and still considers himself a lawmaker that is contradiction of terms after all. Aso he has not thought about the importance of the law for the wider public because the only party he thinks about are his godfathers, unfortunately. And the acting of Mr Leiškalns is just another example of the post Soviet political culture of irresponsibility in the Latvian parliament.

In the meantime the party colleague of Mr Leiškalns, Gundars Bērziņš gave a very colourful interview to the Being customarily boorish this farmer used his openly demeaning expressions accusing persons who disagree with his opinions. Gundars Bērziņš considers the incumbent president a weakling, who literally allows others to throw excrements on himself ["Prezidents noliekas kā paklājiņš, kur viens var noslaucīt kājas, cits atnāk uzčurāt, vēl kāds uzkakāt"], and who allows Latvian Intelligence Agency (SAB) spook to openly denounce the work of the president. He accuses liberal Diena being part of the global conspiracy of international financial institutions and Goeorge Soros against Latvia. He advises former Minister of Foreign Affairs to change his wet pampers and the Head of the Latvian Intelligence Agency (SAB) Mr Jānis Kažociņš to pack and leave.
The interview is thus colourful that I am adding it (in Latvian) to the end of this blog entry.

But to conclude one may notice that acting of Messrs Bērziņš and Leiškalns are identical. They perceive the world and international arena as it was in the 1920's and do not have any understanding about living in an era of free trade regime. It means that both politicians perceive sovereignty in absolute terms without really understanding values and norms of democratic society. The world around them is considered as society where survival of the fittest prevails. In a way they are right, but they terminally lack one important aspect of the race for the survival of the fittest - the knowledge and education aspect. They perceive rich and industrially developed nations, but they do not understand that scientific discoveries and overall improvement of the living stadart would not be possible without such basic inventions of the democratic society as the rule of law and acceptance of plural society.

Totalitarian education has left a heavy imprint on Latvian political elite. The elite itself cannot change and evolutionary buds for qualitative transformation were killed by the formation of the Godmanis government again. Most likely scenario for qualitative turn around of Latvian body politics should be emulation of the Korean 2000 elections, when Millenium Party swept the authoritarian sleaze and strengthened the conviction of ordinary citizens that real democracy is possible. Those elections of 2000 empowered Korean civil society. Such formative event is needed to capitalize various groups of Latvian civil society into the force demanding the end of milieu of the transformational 1990's.

Kā nekļūt par paklājiņu citiem 2007.12.21 @ 00:00

Tautas partijas vecbiedrs Gundars Bērziņš intervijā Neatkarīgajai turpina tēmu par nacionālo pašcieņu, politiķu mīkstčaulību un acīmredzamajiem ienaidniekiem, kuru mērķis ir vājināt politisko varu valstī.

– Valsts prezidents Valdis Zatlers jauno valdību uzticējis veidot Ivaram Godmanim. Kā vērtējat prezidenta izvēli?

– Tas ir vienkāršākais, bet ne tālredzīgākais prezidenta lēmums.

Godmanim ir daudzi plusi. Viņš ir ļoti pieredzējis, godprātīgs. Ar Godmani var diskutēt. Tomēr jāatceras, ka pieredze reizē ir arī rutīna. Grūtības radīs tas, ka Godmanis ir Latvijas ceļa pārstāvis. Reālais līderis apvienībā LPP/LC ir Ainārs Šlesers. Sanāk, ka Godmanis kādu laiku Šleseram būs priekšnieks. Var izveidoties situācija, kad Šlesera viedoklis atšķirsies no Godmaņa viedokļa. Šāda viedokļu dažādība vājinās valdību. Mazas partijas premjers var atļauties strādāt tikai tajā nišā, kur var rast kompromisu. Acīmredzot tāpēc šīs valdības deklarācija ir daudz biklāka salīdzinājumā ar Kalvīša valdības deklarāciju.

– Godmanis ir kompromisa figūra, bet, neraugoties uz to, Latvijā ir spēki, kurus viņa kandidatūra neapmierina. Par to nepārprotami liecina, piemēram, KNAB pēkšņais iesniegums tiesai ar prasību apturēt LPP/LC darbību.

– Tas norāda, ka tiesībsargājošo iestāžu iesaistīšanās politiskajos procesos jau kļuvusi ārkārtīgi bīstama. Tas ir ļoti nopietns valsts apdraudējums, ko šobrīd daudzi nenovērtē. Korupcijas apkarošana ir tēma, kuru vienmēr ērti var izmantot varas sagrābšanai. Piemēram, amats, kurš kļuva par tramplīnu Lukašenko ceļā uz varu, bija Pretkorupcijas komisijas vadīšana Baltkrievijas parlamentā. Viņš nāca pie varas demokrātiskā ceļā. Mani izbrīna, ka tikai Neatkarīgā rakstīja, ka Aleksejs Loskutovs vismaz septiņus mēnešus atradās interešu konfliktā, kurš radās uz viņa seksuālo tieksmju bāzes. Loskutova kungs aptuveni divus mēnešus pirms sava bērna piedzimšanas lūdza Ministru prezidentu novērst interešu konfliktu, lai viņam vairs nebūtu jālemj par sev tuvu cilvēku, kurš strādā viņa pakļautībā. Proti, Loskutovs lūdza nozīmēt citu cilvēku, kurš pieņems lēmumus par viņa nākamā bērna māti. Bet vismaz septiņus mēnešus viņš bija pieņēmis lēmumus par šo sievieti, tostarp arī par prēmēšanu! Viņš ar šo sievieti pat neuzskatīja par vajadzību slēgt laulību! Šā konflikta esamību pat prokuratūra nepārbaudīja. Bet būtu interesanti redzēt oficiālu prokuratūras atzinumu, ka Loskutova gadījumā viss ir kārtībā gan no morāles un ētikas, gan juridiskā viedokļa.

Jāatminas, ka viens no lielākajiem Godmaņa izvirzīšanas atbalstītājiem bija laikraksts Diena. Tikko Godmanis tika nominēts, tā uzreiz viņš Dienai kļuva sliktais. Bet tas jau nav brīnums. Šajā ziņā Diena ir pārbaudīta vērtība. Ja kāds grib draudzēties – lūdzu! Diena jūs nodos jau nākamajā mirklī, kolīdz būs tāda konjunktūra. Godmaņa nominēšana lielā mērā ir Dienas uzvara, ko tā tagad negrib kapitalizēt.

Kas tie ir par spēkiem, kuriem šobrīd ir reālā vara Latvijā?

– Politiskā vide šobrīd ir vienīgā, kurā dominē latvieši. Mēs taču nevaram apgalvot, ka lielāko daļu nekustamo īpašumu vai kapitālu pārvalda latvieši. Lai svešie varētu brīvāk mūsu valstī saimniekot, šī politikas pozīcija ir jāvājina. Latvija vienmēr bijusi kā buferzona starp Rietumiem un Austrumiem. Pēc pievienošanās NATO Latvijā vērojamas dažādu izlūkdienestu sadursmes par ietekmes palielināšanu un kontroles pārņemšanu. Savukārt daudzi ārzemju latvieši vienmēr it sadarbojušies ar savu mītņu zemju specdienestiem. Šobrīd lielākā daļa šo cilvēku atrodas šeit. Viņi tieši un netieši tiek iesaistīti šo ārvalstu specdienestu interešu realizēšanā. Man vienmēr ir šķitis dīvains dubultpilsonības institūts. Bet kādēļ mēs nevarētu atļaut, piemēram, arī divsievību, lai cilvēkiem, aizbraucot strādāt uz ārzemēm, būtu ērtāk dzīvot? Viena sieva Īrijā, otra – Latvijā. Latvijas pilsonība it īpaši pēc pievienošanās Šengenas zonai kļūst ļoti svarīga. Ja cilvēkam kabatā ir ASV un Latvijas pases, tad pasaule kļūst pavisam atvērta. Saeimā aptuveni 10% deputātu sēž ar divām pasēm. Tas nav pareizi. Mēs nedrīkstam atļaut dubultpilsonību. Caur šiem cilvēkiem tiek realizētas svešu valstu intereses.

– No jūsu teiktā varam secināt, ka Latvijā valda specdienesti?

– Varu ietekmē noteikti. Tagad lielākā daļa izliekas par nezinīšiem un tikai kladzina, ka Ketrīna Toda-Beilija ASV atgriežas labprātīgi. Patiesībā kundze ļoti slikti nostrādāja, un Valsts departamenta komisija nolēma viņu atsaukt atpakaļ uz tēva mājām. Lielāka ienaidnieka ASV interesēm Latvijā, kāda bija šī vēstniece, manuprāt, nav bijis. Neprofesionāli un nemākulīgi rīkojoties, viņa tikai vājināja savas valsts ietekmi Latvijā. Šobrīd notiek apzināta melošana – tiek stāstīts, ka viņai beidzas triju gadu termiņš. Bet visi taču zina, ka viņa tiek atsaukta, jo nākamais vēstnieks šeit strādās tikai pusotru gadu – līdz Džordža Buša pilnvaru termiņa beigām.

– Vai pēc jūsu kritiskajiem izteikumiem par ASV vēstnieci jūs neesat izjutis kādas represijas?

– Es, tāpat kā proletariāts, izņemot savas važas, neko zaudēt nevaru. Protams, ja es pēkšņi sadomātu atgriezties kādos amatos, tas pēc šiem izteikumiem praktiski būtu neiespējami. ASV ietekme uz Latvijas iekšpolitiskajiem procesiem ir liela. Tomēr pie mums ir demokrātija. Tādēļ mani uztrauc, ka ir izveidojies tabu runāt par šīm lietām. Te ir runa par nacionālo pašcieņu. Var jau ar saliektu muguriņu žēli traukties uz vēstniecības ēku Raiņa bulvārī, lai saņemtu padomus. Mūsu ministriem esmu teicis: ja kaut kas tāds notiks, tad viņi varēs pārvākties strādāt uz turieni. Šādi cilvēki nedrīkst strādāt Latvijas valsts pārvaldes sistēmā. ASV vēstniecības ēka atrodas ļoti pārskatāmā vietā. Tāpēc, piemēram, man ir ļoti grūti saprast, kas SAB vadītājam Jānim Kažociņa kungam tai mājā ir pazudis. Dažkārt viņš šo vēstniecību apmeklē pat trīs reizes nedēļā. Žēl noskatīties, kā viņš ar saliektu muguriņu tur padevīgi tipina. Protams, es nevaru apgalvot, ka Kažociņa kungs spiego Amerikas interesēs. Pasarg, Dievs! Šo biežo viesošanos varētu skaidrot ar Beilijas kundzes tieksmi bieži cept tītarus, un, iespējams, Kažociņa kungs varbūt palīdz tītariem noplūkt spalvas. Tāpēc mēs kā ASV sabiedrotie Beilijas kundzei uz atvadām varētu uzdāvināt pašu Kažociņa kungu, lai viņš palīdz šos tītarus plūkāt arī viņas dzimtenē. Mēs pat varētu šīs misijas laikā trīs gadus viņam saglabāt SAB vadītāja algu. Bet mēs nekādi nevaram apgalvot, ka Kažociņa kungs spiego kādas ārvalsts interesēs!

– Bijušais jūsu partijas biedrs Artis Pabriks, atkāpjoties no ārlietu ministra posteņa, pauda: "Man nav pieņemami vairāku partijas vecbiedru komentāri, piemēram, par ASV jaukšanos Latvijas iekšpolitikā." Kādēļ Pabrika kungs tā satraucās?

– Puisim ir jānomaina slapjie pamperi, jāuzvelk svaigi, tad jāiznāk tautās un atklāti sabiedrībai jāizstāsta par savu attieksmi pret kompensācijām ebrejiem. Lai viņš nebaidās, lai pastāsta! Ja vajag jaunus pamperus – es nopirkšu! Šis ir viens no jautājumiem, par kuru aizkulisēs uz politiķiem tiek izdarīts milzīgs spiediens. Šis spiediens nāk no aizokeāna, jo tur šīs kopienas ietekme ir ļoti liela. Pabrikam vajadzētu atklāt, kuri tie ir, kas viņu spaida. Nevajag baidīties! Pamperi tagad ir izturīgi!

– Daudzi kompetenti juristi, piemēram, bijušais ģenerālprokurors Jānis Skrastiņš, Neatkarīgajai norādījuši uz tiesībsargājošo iestāžu jaukšanos politikā. Kas jādara, lai tam pieliktu punktu?

– Politikā ir vajadzīga drosme, pašapziņa un cieņa kā pret sevi, tā pret citiem. Piemērs. Valsts prezidenta kancelejā augstā amatā ir SAB aģents, kurš ziņo SAB par prezidenta personīgajām lietām. Prezidentam šis cilvēks ir zināms. Prezidents lieliski zina, ka par viņi stučī. Rodas jautājums – cik zemā līmenī jābūt pašcieņai, lai pieļautu, ka tavs darbinieks par tevi raksta ziņojumus? Tas ir lepnuma trūkums. Es to saucu par paklāju politiku. Prezidents noliekas kā paklājiņš, kur viens var noslaucīt kājas, cits atnāk uzčurāt, vēl kāds uzkakāt. Tad visi sāk kliegt – ak vai, kādi mēs netīri! Ja jau reiz esi kā paklājiņš noklājies, tad nebrīnies, ka esi netīrs. Paklājs jau ir paredzēts kāju slaucīšanai. Ja vēlies iemantot cieņu – cieni pats sevi. Tas pats ar kriminālprocesiem pret Lembergu vai Šķēli. Varēja taču godīgi pateikt, ka šos divus vīrus vajag novākt. Kad Šķēle lasa lekciju, visi mutītes atvēruši sēž un klausās. Tā ir mūsu pašu problēma, jo spēcīgākos mēs vienmēr vajājam.

– Kurš šobrīd visvairāk var ietekmēt prezidenta lēmumus?

– Laikraksts Diena un sorosistu elite. Ar sorosistu eliti es saprotu ne tikai tos, kuri ieņem amatus sorosistu struktūrās. Ar to es saprotu domāšanas veidu; cilvēkus, kuri ir pārņemti ar šo pakalpiņu filozofiju, kuriem nav nekādas pašcieņas, kuri šeit grib ievazāt visādas nejēdzības, piemēram, kosmopolītismu. Viņai dara viss, lai valsts vara kļūtu aizvien vājāka. Var Dienas redaktorei paprasīt, cik viņai pirms Godmaņa nominācijas ir bijušas telefonsarunas ar prezidentu? Godmaņa nominēšanā Dienai ir liela loma. Diena Valsts prezidentu dresēja tāpat kā Pavlovs savus suņus. Analizējot pēdējā laika Dienas publikācijas, redzams, ka gandrīz katrā laikraksta numurā par prezidentu publicēti divi raksti. Viens kā pātaga prezidentam, otrs – kā kliņģeris. Dresēja un izdresēja. Pavlova suņiem pielēca, un cilvēkam vēl jo vairāk pielec, kādos gadījumos sit, kādos baro. Tādēļ arī prezidents piezvana Dienai un pavaicā, kas būtu jāliek par premjeru.

– Viena no partijas Jaunais laiks viskategoriskākajām prasībām valdības sastādīšanas procesā bija – pieņemt stukaču likumu. Kādēļ Jaunajam laikam tieši šis likums ir tik


– Ja jau viņi tik ļoti vēlas šo likumu pieņemt, viņi varēja iekļauties valdībā un pie šā likuma strādāt. Taču viņi meklē iemeslus, lai nestrādātu valdībā. Jaunajā laikā ir vairāki strāvojumi. Ir cilvēki, kuri būtu gatavi ne tikai ieiet valdībā, bet arī nopietni strādāt. Konstruktīvās lietas parasti torpedē tie, kuri gribēja kļūt par ministriem, bet nekļuva. Lai Jaunais laiks iekļautos valdībā, viņiem vajag vismaz piecpadsmit ministru vietas. Citādi viņi amatus nevarēs sadalīt.

Runājot par pašu likumu, jāatzīst, ka sabiedrība tiek dziļi maldināta. Jau šobrīd, ja kāds ziņo par smagāku nodarījumu, nekā pats izdarījis, viņš tiek atbrīvots no atbildības. Jautājums jau ir cits, ka no atbildības grib atbrīvot par līdzvērtīgu noziegumu. Šis likums jāsauc īstajā vārdā – tas ir Lemberga un Šķēles likums, kas ļautu par viņiem ziņot un ziņotājus varētu atbrīvot no atbildības pat bez tiesas lēmuma. Faktiski ar šo likumu vēlas atgriezt Staļina troikas principus; grib, lai prokuratūra varētu pati izmeklēt un pati arī notiesāt. Vēl tikai sprieduma izpildi atliek uzticēt. To nekādā gadījumā nedrīkst pieļaut. Prasība šo likumu pieņemt tik straujā tempā ir pilnīgi nepamatota.

– Vēl Jaunais laiks prasīja finansēt nevalstiskās organizācijas no valsts budžeta. Zīmīgi, ka tādas pašas prasības izvirzīja Sorosa fonda finansētās organizācijas. Kādēļ Jaunajam laikam un sorosiešiem tik liela domu saskaņa?

– Aiz Jaunā laika stāv sorosistu elite. Cita lieta, ka šī elite ir neapmierināta, jo Jaunais laiks nespēj daudzas lietas izdarīt. Kad Repše bija valdības vadītājs, tika pieņemti sorosistiem ļoti labvēlīgi likumi. Tagad laiki ir spiedīgi. Presē lasīju, ka Robertam Putnim vairs nemaksā algu. Protams, pagrābt naudu no valsts kabatas taču ir visvienkāršāk. Priekš tam jau Jaunais laiks ir, lai savējos sorosistus atbalstītu.

– Runā, ka Štokenberga un Pabrika veidojums ir Tautas partijas lolojums un rezerves variants. Vai tas tā ir?

– Latvijas politikā ir viena būtiska lieta – partiju savstarpējās konsultācijas būtu veiksmīgākas, ja būtu aizpildīts viss politiskais spektrs. Šobrīd sociāldemokrātiskā niša ir tukša. Šo nišu grib aizpildīt Štokenberga un Pabrika organizācija, ko es saucu par Liepnieka demokrātiem. Tie ir demokrāti ar cieto piesitienu, ar nelielu smaciņu. Tas, ka viņi šo nišu nolēmuši apgūt, ir apsveicami. Taču es viņiem ieteiktu piestrādāt, lai paši atbilstu sociāldemokrātu kanoniem. Var jau nestaigāt pufaikās, bet braukāt ar dārgajām Porshe un Rover automašīnām gan nevar. Jāatturas arī no dārgu apģērbu pirkšanas. Ja viņi nomainīs auto, apģērbu un dārgos dzīvokļus, tad nākamajā parlamentā viņi būs pārstāvēti.

– Kompetenti eksperti pašreizējās politiskās klizmas skaidro arī ar tādu stingru vīru kā Lembergs un Šķēle nepiedalīšanos lēmumu pieņemšanā. Varbūt tieši tāpēc Lembergu tur mājas arestā?

– Tas, ka Lembergam eņģeļa spārni nav izauguši, ir fakts, bet vai viņš ir tik melns, kā viņu mālē, arī ir jautājums. Man Lembergu mīlēt nav nekāda iemesla pēc tā visa, ko viņš mūsu partijai ir nodarījis. Bet viņš ir spēcīgs cilvēks, tā ir izcila un spēcīga personība. Šie pret Lembergu vērstie kriminālprocesi izskatās nožēlojami. Dzīve jau parādīja, kurā pusē ir taisnība – Grinbergu lieta beidzās ar Lemberga pilnīgu uzvaru. Prokuratūra izvirza apsūdzību un, kad redz, ka to nevarēs pierādīt, virza atkal nākamo, tad vēl un vēl. Tagad iznāk, ka šo procesu pietiks visam Lemberga mūžam, pat ja viņš dzīvotu līdz 150 gadiem. Ceru, ka Lemberga lieta tomēr drīz beigsies. Man nepatīk, kā tā virzās. Neizskatās, ka tur viss būtu pareizi, korekti un godīgi.

Arī Šķēle ir izcila personība. Šīs divas personības visādos veidos mēģina vājināt. Pagājuši vairāk nekā desmit gadi, kopš Šķēle vadīja savas pirmās divas valdības, kuras pārvarēja politisko un ekonomisko krīzi. Es darīšu visu, lai Šķēle par savu konkrēto ieguldījumu politiskās un ekonomiskās krīzes pārvarēšanā saņemtu Triju Zvaigžņu ordeni. Kad es aizgāju no amata, man vismaz uzdāvināja pistoli. Te gan var būt kāds apslēpts mājiens: kad turku sultāns aizsūtīja ministriem zīda šņori, kalpiem ministrs bija jānožņaudz. Ilgi domāju, kādēļ Kalvītis man to pistoli uzdāvināja. Bet man vismaz kaut ko uzdāvināja – Šķēlem aizejot, pat paldies nepateica.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Contemplations after suicide blasts and passing away of Jaan Kross

This morning sad news came from Estonia. The world renown novelist Mr Jaan Kross passed away today. He was the Nobel prize of literature nominee for many years in the row. Estonia still does not have a Nobel prize winner and both Messrs Kross and Jaan Kaplinski are nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature for 2007. The life of Jaan Kross was ended, thus Estonian society has lost its most prominent intellectual today.

Couple of hours later tragic news came from Pakistan - the first female prime minister of the muslim country, Mrs Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by the suicide killer in Rawhalpindi. Two highly educated persons passing away in the same day sounds a bit cruel in this Holiday Season.

Latvian new old government was elected by the Latvian Saeima with 54 AYS on December 21, 2007. After the government was elected an old member of the People's Party (TP) Gundars Bērziņš came out with a very colourful interview in the His public utterances were balancing on simple rudeness, and I shall come back today with short analysis of the aforementioned interview and other thoughts prior the end of the politically eventful year for the Republic of Latvia.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Interim government from its onset

Today Latvian parliament convenes in order to vote for the new government. In the Latvian public TV morning news incumbent president reiterated that he still trusts the statemanship of Ivars Godmanis. President said that he wants to have the five right wing party government in Latvia, but the New Era (JL) backed off yesterday. The JL backing off was legitimate if one remembers why did government of Aigars Kalvītis resign - total distrust of it in the eyes of public opinion, and foremost due to the open breach of law of the government from October 2006 - November 2007. Regardless of the public opinion the formation of the government was sped up with the shallow argument that the government must be formed prior Christmas.

It means that regardless of the October & November demonstrations, total dissatisfaction of the government and parliament in the eyes of the civic society( public shall probably witness the old government with new PM and couple of new faces in the same bunch of jokers.

Present governing coalition parties, that should be better called minigarchic interest groups, have totally discredited themselves. While Latvian economy has been transformed since the 1991 and there are significant changes in the society the political elite has stagnated. Next year there is a time for repeating Latvia something similar to the Korean 2000 elections when he Millenium party cleaned the political sleaze of the authoritarian regime.

The new government, which might be approved today with 52-55 votes out of 99, would not serve long. The Trade Union Confederation announced that the 10 000 signatures for the referendum to initiate dispersal of the parliament are collected and should be be handed over to the Central Electoral Bureau early next year. Preparations for the snap elections are ingeneered into the next year today by the existing parliamentary majority.

Merry Christmas! And I am leaving for Stockholm to enjoy the Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Change of government facade tomorrow?

Ivars Godmanis has publickly announced that he woud procceed with forming the government out of four governing parties. It means that demonstrations and ongoing disatisfaction with the governance culture had no effect on the post Soviet Latvian nomenklatura. This morning it became known that the Mandatory Income and Property Declaration system is postponed indefinitely. There are no diplomatic excuses found anymore, because the head of the Saeima Budget and Finance Comittee Kārlis Leiškalns announced that this law is simply not needed in Latvia.

The discourse of illiberal democrats use slogans of liberal economics for exusing themselves from thus needed reforms of the tax and criminal codes. The elite simply continues its rule because most probably the parliament with 52-54 AYES shall vote in the new old government of Ivars Godmanis.

After new government voted in tomorrow Latvian folks would continue the shopping rally, the government would pretend working hard in turning around the stagnant post-Soviet governance style and Latvia's Western partners would shake their heads in disbelief - for how long??

Not only snap elections are needed but replacement of MP's in TOTO for cutting the Gordion's knot of Latvian patriarchal and minigarhic family relations. Merry Christmas for All and one!! For Latvians - mierīgus svētkus šajā Aizspogulijas pārejas laikā!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

X-mas glittery for children

This morning Ivars Godmanis uttered that he wants to have a new Latvian government sworn in the Latvian parliament already this Thursday. There is no sense for such urgency if there is a will to solve problems that caused demonstrations and ever increasing dissatifaction in society.

Wednesday's Diena openly confirms my pessimistic predictions about short longevity of this government. Yesterday the Saeima postponed the possible passing of the manatory property and income declaration law AGAIN. In addition the Head of the Saeima Budget and Finance Committee OPENLY states that he is not only AGAINST such law, but that such law is only curbing basic freedoms and not needed in Latvia at all. At the end of his utterance he predicts that pasing of such law would bring Stalinist tyranny back into Latvia. I somehow fel that I have heard such comparisons somewhere. Aye, Goeorge Orwell in his ''Nineteen eighty four'' has famous quote from country named Oceania - "freedom is slavery, igorance is strentgth & war is peace". Sad, very, very sad............

After such pronouncements the whole government formation does not look like a process for sustainable liberal democracy, but as paternal father clobbing X-mas glittery for his children....

Update will DEFINITELY follow...

The new old cabinet

Ivars Godmanis is trying to do the impossible, to form the new cabinet out of the same wood - the post Soviet nomenklatura. He could not act against his benefactor, thus already promised that Latvian transport supremo would retain his ministerial position. Demands of People's Party (TP), Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS) and Fatherland Unon (TB/LNNK) have been met and the old new governing coalition is happy. Apparently TP ministers of culture, foreign affairs and regional affairs would retain their positions. Green ministers of environment and agriculture are on the safe side, and there is bargaining about strategic repositioning considering posts in the government, Riga City Council and State Company councils, particularly the latter ones that earn lavish incomes into the party treasuries. Latvian constitution specifies that it is the responsibility of the PM to form the cabinet, but it does not specify the mode of cabinet formation.

The biggest obstacle for the cabinet composition starts with the mode of its formation and possible inclusion of the New Era (JL) party in this proccess (that was a reprimand of the incumbent presient). It is logical that JL has its reprimands, because the previous government fell due to the fact that the goverment of Aigars Kalvītis lost the confidence of the public opinion. To repare the growing rift between government and governed JL proposed amendments (so called anti-mafia clause) in the Criminal Code and the Election law. The formateur PM deems JL reprimands so far as an ultimatum. It shows that the former coalition members do not consider the rule of law essential and reckon that the loss of legitimacy among the public was caused by liberal media, thus the resignation of Mr Kalvītis could be simply labeled as an unsuccesful PR campaign.

The level of education of the post Soviet nomenklatura is still the same, and the present behaviour of the prospective PM shows that they have not learned anything from the political crisis of the last three months. Latvian state is the weakest link among the Baltic sisters and for the last year it is very openly courting with Russia (just to name visits of the former president, the Orthodox Archbishop, and former PM) make rather many people in this country happy, however, there considerable party of folks who are suspiscious about such turn of events. No wonder why, because the top civil servants and also Latvian transport supremo consider that the long term sustainable development of Latvian liberal democracy is ensured by mere membership in NATO and the EU. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs left Latvian colleagues today with the Latvian-Russian border treaty, the very treaty that is euphemistically called also as Mr Putin's dead ears of a donkey. Probably some interest groups are happy about benefits of possibly free of charge gas in Latvian wonderland. Free of charge - naivete par excellence!! Just as a detail here one must remind about an old Latvian prowerb, that, "one must earn everything in this world, even being beaten up by someone"...

While childish Latvian society participates in the Season's shopping rally there is a rebirth of the old government with new faces. The facade change would successfully finish, and majority of folks would start expecting for miracles from the same politicanos, huh, huh....

Will there be more mass rallies after the Holiday Season? What opposition role shall the New Era and Reconciliation Centre parties play? How badly the tremours of international credit market will affect Latvian overheated economy? These are the THREE questions that will be pretty much on agenda for the first half of the next year in Latvia.

Mieru Jums šajā tumsas laikā! Rahu Teile sellel pimedal ajal! Peace for everyone in this time of darkness!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Return to square one repeated

Thats it and the Latvian 1990-1993 Premier Ivars Godmanis is back!

Last Friday I still customarily heard former physicist and Minister of Interior on the SWH Radio station as a DJ narrating rich history of rock music (he did it very profesionally BTW). Today incumbent president did not want to meddle into root causes of the present political situation and entrusted the formateur premiership role to the man of his age - Mr Ivars Godmanis. He is an old grand man of Latvian politics and he has a task to calm down Latvian Transport Supremo Ainārs Šlesers, cozy up the rest of three coalition partners, and convince the New Era (JL) party to delegate their ministers into his cabinet in order to satisfy the vision of the president - to see the new cabinet formed by five right wing parties. Not an easy task considering present circumstances.

In the meantime events throughout this year concluded with the speech of Madam ambassador on October 16 already made me to utter words that the Latvian post-independence development has returned to the square one. With Ivars Godmanis as nominated head for the prospective cabinet one can't have a better symbol for Latvia returning to the SQUARE ONE. There are Latvian neighbors in the North, South and West who learn from mistakes of others.

It somehow feels that Latvian society are masochists, because they simply love trying al the hard lessons on themselves. First, they listened to the orange and blue propaganda (colors of the TP and LPP/LC parties prior October 2006 elections) on the TV and that propaganda was deemed illegal by the Senat of the Supreme Court on November 3, 2006. Second, they started uttering disbelief about the actions of their elected representatives that culminated in demonstrations in this traditionally calm Baltic state, and now population was forced to admit that the same symbol that brought shock therapy to them in the early 1990's is forced to reconcile splinter groups of the Latvian political class. It was relatively easy for Mr Godmanis in 1991 because the Latvian society had just exited the experiment of molding the homo soveticus, but there is a lot of water that has flown into the sea since then. Mr Godmanis will soon have to realize that sixteen years have actually passed. I do not think, in case the government of Ivars Godmanis is going to be formed at all, that it could sustain its operating capacity longer than the end of next Summer. What elese one may utter here...lai sokas (Good luck!) formateur PM!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Independent candidates in the Latvian PM race (updated)

Latvia's incumbent president unexpectedly brought out new horses for the PM race. He is meeting in the Riga Castle independent candidates right at this moement. Meetings with the head of the American-Latvian Financial Forum and former Latvian Ambassador in Washington DC Mr Aivis Ronis, the president of Savings Bank (Krājbanka) and the former head of the president Vaira Vīķe Freiberga Chancellary Mr Mārtiņš Bondars are over already. At this very moment he is meeting the Head of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce Mr Andris Bērziņš who was former president of Unibanka.

The fact that he would meet independent candidates right after meeting candidates nominated by the political parties is unexpected. It was already known that president would also consider consulting with independent candidates and actually about a month ago in one of the TV LIVE Kas notiek Latvijā? shows Mr Bondars was alraedy positioning himself as a possible candidate, and I would reckon him as the most ambitios among the independent candidates. Thus, if not his credentials as former basketball player (and president likes playing bsketball as well) then at least his wife was already winner of the Mrs Latvia peagant competition:-)

It seems that the presidential chancellary wants to brake free from the conspicuous and somewhat uncomfortable relation between the incumbent president and the Saeima majority, that found him in the Zoo and elected with the simple majority. Consultations with independent candidates show the president as a considerate stateman who wants to find the best candidate for the PM position. The delay even increases his ratings, but it is a tricky endavour after all, because by nominating "wrong" candidate (that the society would deem not having clean credentials) he might put himself right on the anvil to listen to the sound of liberal media hammer. If president by any chance would nominate an independent candidate the latter would have to find a support in the Saeima anyway. It is a titanic task, but it also gives the signal to the parliament that as an institution it is useless, if it is even unable to agree among themselves and offer the PM candidate. Would such turn of events gradually lead to the snap elections?


I shall give an interview to the Latvian Public Radio 1st program in an half an hour, thus skimmed through the biographies of new horses in the race. Former ambassador Aivis Ronis got his history degree from the University of Latvia, but he already announced that he was not offered the task to form the new cabinet, thus we may discount him from the race. Mr Bondars studied mathematics in the University of Latvia but got his BA degree in business administration from the US, because his educational credentials are questionable I would not count him highly, because prior becoming the head of the Vīķe-Freiberga chancellary he was not elected into the Riga City Council from the Fatherland Freedom list in 2001. Thus, journalists would find this fact and he would have hardships proving that his tarnished uniform is solid enough.

The former president of Unibanka Mr Andris Bērziņš has unfortunate surname, because it is the most popular one in Latvia, and I could not find his CV in The fact that he was a president of Unibanka make me somehow think that he might have an education of an economist. Unibanka was formerly state owned and he had to work with the former Lavian government representatives, thus I would not be surprised if president would name Andris Bērziņš as a candidate.

If such nomination would take place it might serve as a swan song for the incumbent parliament. Majority of MP's would not like to lose their seats, but the fact that they would appoint the candidate offered by the president (giving away their legitimate right to offer the legitimate candidate to the president) would make any self-respected MP West, North and South of Latvia to puke...Would MP's dare to not appoint the presidential choice?

The generation gap is becoming more and more pronounced in Latvia. The generation that rules Latvia now do not understand the changes and rules of the game in the European liberal democracy. Simple technocratic upgrade of the Saeima work is impossible due to the fact that majority of MP's were socialized during the Soviet period where clear distinction existed between civic society and dissacotiation from the state, moral integrity and nepotism/graft, and where the first part of the wording couple was not held in any esteem. The existing MP's and the rest of the political elite TRULY BELIEVE that the present political crisis is an unsuccessful PR campaign.

MP's do not understand that they have persistently breeched basic principles of the rule of law during the last year, thus undermining the very foundations of the democratic state, MP's still believe that they can squeeze into parliament with the help of their godfathers, and they believe that godfather's lawyers and spin doctors will hush up the whole dissatisfaction in society. I somehow fel that the thin red line is crossed this time. The crux of the present political crisis is whether Latvia'n population wants to live in the democracy where rule of law prevails?

The three official party nominees have not endured their test and that was announced from the Riga Castle today. The strange news is the fact that the incumbent president has not announced why was not he satisfied with the proposed candidates?

Ivars Godmanis already yesterday announced that he should be considered as a back up candidate. Mr Dombrovskis was considered as weak link due to the fact that he was not supported by the governing four parties. Mr Zalāns made sucidal interview and buried himself as a future politician. Those candidates should not be discounted totally, but I still stick to my conclusions that without snap elections there is no rational outcome out of this murky situation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The PM nominee announced... this Friday?

Incumbent president has had discussions with three PM candidates. After the meeting in the Riga Castle it is still no clear whether there is one favourite. The only candidate and a friend of incumbent president from his youth, Mr Ivars Godmanis announced that he considers himself as a back-up prospect in this race. Probably it is not bluffing from his part, but while skimming through all the candidates 100 days in the office programmes it becomes clear that the People's Party candidate is dragging his feet behind two physicists. Also, and somewhat surprisingly, the mandatory income and property declaration law has been taken by the New Era MP Kārlis Šadurskis, and it seems that the majority of MP's are finally agreeing that this long due law could finally be passed, thus ending the basis for tax evasion and legal nihilism in Latvia.

Mr Ivars Godmanis is very scrupulous in his program and his ideas do not differ very much Valdis Dombrovskis ones. Both candidates underline the need to reform antiquated tax code, strenghten the position of Corruption Fighting Agency (KNAB), establish macroeconomic discipline and reconsider decision of the former government to built national library, concert hall and museum of modern art regardless of the reigning economic climate.

The program of Edgars Zalāns is short but lacks substance in questions about the rule of law and economics. Thus, while reading the program of Mr Zalāns I consider his overconfidence as a best example of TP bluffing. In addition Mr Zalāns had a fall - out with local media when giving interview to the yellow press. In Privātā Dzīve he announced that he resolutely refrains from reading Latvian newspapers and considers the TV LIVE Kas notiek Latvijā? show as a citadel of negativism, thus, in principle downgrading the value of political debates. It has caused a huge media attention to the present Minister of Regional Affairs (Mr Zalāns), and has revealed unpreparedness of the PM candidate.

The announcement of Kārlis Šadurskis (JL) that the mandatory income and property declaration law could be voted into law is the BEST news so far in Latvia. Already former PM announced in March 2007, that this law should be passed prior January 1, 2008, but about two months ago the head of the Saeima budget committee postponed this law indefinitely after the KNAB saga started. To those of you who follow this blog I want to remind that Latvia is among very few continental European states where people are not required to declare what their own or what are their real incomes. Entrepreneurs and state officials are obviously reprimanded to declare their property and incomes, but when the system is not mandatory it gives a chance to evade them. In addition, when broad layers of society do not know about the income declaration they are not socialised into being full fledling citizens. Thus the latter simply want nothing to do with the state and following the totalitarian tradition want to evade any obligations vis-a-vis the state as much as possible. This is one of the major problems of fledling civic society in Latvia, because people disassociate themselves from the state.

If this law would be finally passed it would serve as a founding stone of the transparent democracy in Latvia, because in this way the Latvian Internal Revenue service would be able to finally learn what belongs to whom in this country!

It seems that the governing coalition is scared to loose their MP mandates, if they have agreed to allow to pass tax declaration law prior January 1, 2008. There are rumours spreading that new government would not be sworn into office prior arival of the Russian Ministrer of Foreign Affairs Mr Lavrov to Riga. Head of the prsidential chancellary Mr Stiprais was evasive whilst answering journalist's questions about posible favourite of the incumbent president. Anyway, the president has announced that he wants to announce the formateur PM the coming Friday. We still do not know whether he is inclined to play with the three candidate or announce apolitical candidate. Nevertheless, whilst listening to the media, reading candidate's programmes, and having learned all the pros and cons of independent decisionmaking of the presidential institution I would name either Mr Dombrovskis or Godmanis if I would be in schoes of the incumbent president. There is a cause for dissatisfaction among broad layers of society and presidential advisors know it. In case president shall nominate either Mr Dombrovskis or Mr Godmanis would mean that he has learned something these months and wants to establish his independent position, thus gradually cutting the unbilical cord between him and the governing coalition. In case Mr Zalāns would be nominated this Friday all illusions about the independent post of the presidential office would be lost, and the delapidated Ms Latvia in rough seas of global economic turbulence could only hope for the grace of God...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Who's going to be new PM?

Tomorrow morning the incumbent president is convening candidates with their "home work done" prior nominating the new head of the government. Valdis Zatlers demanded three candidates, Valdis Dombrovskis (JL), Ivars Godmanis (LC/LPP), and Edgars Zalāns (TP), whom political parties have nominated for the PM post, to prepare their program for the first hundred days in the office. Such reprimand sounds strange from the former doctor with questionable credentials. If there is possibility to envisage approximate number of surgeries to be performed in upcoming three months, then prime minister's position requires a lot of improvisation, thus his/her schedule is hard to plan. Political improvisation is particularly essential in the parliamentary republic, because to make heterogenous coalition members to work as a one team is challenging task.

However, in the situation with "home work" to be prepared there is some sense in this process. It means that prospective PM's must show a vision to solve present economic ills and thus regain the lost legitimacy among broad swathes of population. The vision and untarnished credentials should be best assets of the PM candidate for president making up his mind, because it would solve both issues that made the former government to resign - tarnished reputation of governing coalition parties and lack of new ideas to lead Latvia out of this murky situation.

Among the candidates mentioned best credentials has Valdis Dombrovskis (JL-MEP). Straight from the academia he went to work into the Bank of Latvia and from there he joined founding members of the New Era (JL) party in 2002, and in 2005 he was elected as MEP in Strassbourg. Some experts have called his relative inexperience and lack of vision as major hindrances. In present situation, when president has not made up his mind, it would be foolish to reveal all the cards from the stack. Thus it would be simply incorrect to speak about the lack of vision from Dombrovskis' part, because not only we have not learned grand visions of other two candidates, we also do not know whether Mr Zatlers is not inclined to nominate independent candidate. It means that the understanding about the future vision of the governance should very much emanate from the credentials of those candidates (and that should make the president finally reckon).

Aye, Mr Godmanis has ample of experience because he is a grand old man of the Latvian politics. Some might argue that he has more clear vision than his physicist homologue Dombrovskis. I absolutely disagree with such statement due to the very simple fact that Ivars Godmanis has been in politics starting from first days of the post-independence Latvia. While being member of the liberal Latvijas Ceļš majority in parliament throughout the 1990's, why did he not help implemention of all the prerequisites for normal functioning of liberal democracy? In addition his reputation is tarnished by being acquinted with incumbent president during his youth, and being payrolled by Ainārs Šlesers after liberal Latvijas Ceļš failed to squeeze into the parliament.

Reputation of Edgars Zalāns is tarnished by the fact that he was the bureau chief of the former PM Mr Šķēle. Whilst looking into his CV ( it becomes clear that he does not understand that one or two month courses listened in the Queensland (Australia), Taouyana (Taiwan) and World Bank Economic Development institute usually count not as primary but additional education. Former maire of Kuldīga and present Minister of Regional affairs has undergone a full course in the "Leadership Academy". The latter institution was created by blessing of Mr Šķēle and there are psyhiatrists who argue that this institution is not only brainwashing centre, but it also causes serious mental disorders among "graduates" initiated by the "Leadership Academy". Whilst Mr Zalāns is graduate of such questionable institution I would expect any rational vision for solving existing legitimacy problems in Latvia, but continuation of magnanimous and discussionless governance culture in Latvia instead.

In this dire straits situation the task of the incumbent president is not easy indeed. His chancellary has avised him to work with three candidates. Four parties of the governing coalition have already announced that they would continue to work under leadership of Mr Zalāns. In the meantime there are several rumours spreading either about JL incompetence or wish to use all this readiness to participate in the new government as a simple PR trick to raise their ratings. However ludicrous the background of rumours would not be I find that present situation really represent the classical "chicken game". The distrust between the coalition members and JL is justified, because antagonistic elites spilled a lot of bad blood on both sides, thus we cannot expect to have fruitful cooperation among them without confidence building measures. Nevertheless, the very government formation is a confidence building measure, thus how else the present governing coalition would imagine the JL to show their credibility? If the governing coalition failed and lost the trust among the public then they should give JL a try to form a government because the governing coalition still has 52 votes majority (thus, they have nothing to lose whatsover). If they are afraid to give even such a small chance to the JL designated PM candidate then it makes me unwillingly to think, that members of the governing elite are concerned not about the clean up and stabilisation of the political system, but some shady deals that possible new PM could terminate. Thus, it is paramount for the president to show his impartiality and distance himself from possibly tarnishing political games.

In such a situation it is a crucial moment for the president, to play his neutral role of an arbiter. It means that he should show his political independence to the public by naming Valdis Dombrovskis, thus giving the chance for New Era to prove their willingness to leave the past behind and form a new government. President himself believes that the best option to bring Latvia out from the endemic circle of distrust would be to form a five party center right government. I would question such will of the president, but even if he believes that such five party coalition would lead the governing elite out of the present cul de sac, I would name Valdis Dombrovskis if I would be him. Critics would object me saying that the parliamentary majority consisting of four parties of the governing coalition (52 votes) have already expressed their wish to work under leadership of Mr Zalāns, and why not Mr Godmanis afer all?

To answer such hypothetical objections I would retort that the very reason for resignation of Mr Kalvītis was not solely his lack of leadership, that many government advisors blame him now without any sense of remorse. Foremost, it was the irresponsible goverance style of People's Party (TP) that allowed to push through ill famed laws (that undermined the very foundations of Latvian democracy) without any discussions in the parliament, and that also allowed to nominate the very incumbent president in the Zoo. If president wants to cut the umbilical cord with the governing coalition and establish his reputation as an independent playmaker in Latvian balance of power system he should give Mr Valdis Dombrovskis a try. Mr Godmanis could be nominated after Mr Dombrovskis would fail to form the government, and Mr Godmanis is still the Interior Minister of the government that just fell due to the lack of trust among the public. Maturation of the Latvian political system, independence of the presidential institution, and future of the Latvian long term and sustained liberal democracy are at stake during tomorow's consultations between the president and prospective ministerial candidates.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

After PM resigns...political crisis goes on

After a week at the shores of Bosphorus I am back at the shores of the Baltic Sea. Yesterday, as it was promised already a month ago, the former PM finally stepped down from his office. Strangely, but first source I heard this information from was BBC, because they transmitted that piece of news while I was actually driving to work accross the Daugava river. The longest rule of the PM in post-independence Latvia is finally over and that is achievement of an civic society already. It means that within a year because of a pressure emanating from the civic society speaker of the parliament and prime ministers had to leave their office.

In the meantime the president has convened Ivars Godmanis (LC/LPP), Valdis Dombrovskis (JL) and Edgars Zalāns (TP) for consultations today, because according to the Latvian constitution it is the president who is entitled to nominate a new head of the cabinet. Pollsters reveal that distrust in the Latvian populace is overwhelming, and the fact that 68% of respondents would like to see politically independent candidate as future PM (that also shows how uneducated average voter in this country is about basic principles of statecraft in democratic society). Latvian constitution enables the candidate without any party affiliation to become PM, and already in 1995 the former PM Andris Šķēle made a precedent. Thus, the independent candidate cannot be excluded from the race for Latvian prime ministership.

In the meantime there is a lot of bluffing and speculations who would finally become the new PM. In the present situation when MP's are still hoping to salvage their welfare from possible snap elections it seems that the TP candidate has better options than other candidates. Mr Godmanis has already uttered that he does not want to be jokey for People's Party (TP) face saving. Also New Era (JL) has announced that they do not want to be a political force that would be assigned to solve the problems committed by previous government. In such situation Mr Zalāns who was maire of the Western town of Kuldīga looks almost an optimal candidate, if not the fact that he was the head of the former PM Šķēle bureau chief.

Russian "Kommersant" speculates that even the former minister of regional affairs Mr Štokenbergs could be offered as a candidate, but to me such candidature looks inprobable however. If TP want to play their game till the end, then they need trusted leutenants and if Mr Štokenbergs was thrown out of the party, it somehow does not seem as a sign of trust.

There is plenty of time for president to nominate the candidate but the circle of potential top notchers is artificially narrow. It seems that president is unwilling or unable to cut his unbilical cord with the present governing coalition. In the meantime Latvia is mired in scandal caused by the decision of the head of the Latvian public TV not to show the movie about Vladimir Putin day before elections to the Russian Duma. The whole story seems just ludicrous today, and while some commentators have called such censorship of news from public TV as "finlandisation" then my colleague Dr Andris Sprūds quite correctly has named it "gazpromisation" of Latvia.

The point is that even during the high time of "finlandisation" Finnish industry and its strategic energy sector was in Finnish hands. Even if there was self-censorship to avoid bad news about the USSR emanating from Finland, never was there such contraditory situations when the public TV director does not know what the Supervisor of te Public Radion and TV does. In "gazpromised" Latvia political elites are fractionalized and continue their political infighting without establishing clear rules of the game. Also all pipelines in Latvia already belong to the Latvijas Gāze, Gazprom, Itera Latvija consortium. Latvia already uses about 30% of gas for its energy production, that is higher even than in gas producing Netherlands or Norway. If Latvian government and parliament decided now to build the new gas power station, and thus put the nuclear power project in Ignalina on backburner, it would show that Latvia is literally "gazpromised".

With bad news blocked from the public TV, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Lavrov arriving to exchange the signed border agreement documents on December 18 in Riga, and new gas power station project in Saeima in second reading, Latvia now does not have a government. It does not sound as bad as in Belgium for example, but the situation is definitely faraway from the best examples of the Northern good governance culture.