Monday, February 25, 2008

Prime Minister and spring brake

Throughout January Ivars Goodmanis was working hard and it was speculated that his overbearing energy and lack of knowledge to delegate powers to other cabinet members would burn him out prematurely. The rumors about his workaholic leadership style date back to the early 1990’s and probably he has learned to delegate his powers after all, although I doubt it. The major cause to cast doubts on his ability to learn such technique is the fact that the incumbent PM took a week long vacation yesterday. It means that from yesterday the Transport Supremo who is also known with the nickname “kick boxer” shall execute PM duties in Latvia this week. I don’t think that Mr. Godmanis is burned out immediately, but it seems that he takes the governing tasks too seriously without really consulting the wide range of experts about real causes of the sorry state of business in Latvia Ltd. Probably he did not have a real X-mas brake either. Thus, I would speculate that after passing the 100 day, and now also the government action program, he feels as accomplished something tangible and is probably skiing somewhere in the Alps.

P.S. For those of you reading in Estonian I wrote a piece in Postimees.

“Transport Supremo” and Mr. Goodman (from left to right)

Already in July 2007 (look into the July 18 blog entry) the incumbent PM advertised his ideas about the future economic development in “Latvijas Avīze”. In February 8 the Latvian Bureau of Statistics came with the news that Latvian annual inflation has reached not only the highest rate (15,7%) in the post-independence period but it is also the highest in the EU. This news does not surprise anyone in the Latvia anymore, because the whole 2007 were spent in almost firemen readiness to extinguish nests of the overheating Latvian economy. The civil society put a pressure on the government throughout 2007, and already ex-PM Aigars Kalvītis had to resign due to incompetence and lack of trust in December 5, 2007. Hurried government negotiations just prior X-mas [that created associations that governing elite was craving simply for restful holiday season] finished with 97% of the Kalvitis government ministers ending up in the government of Ivars Godmanis.
With the same government ministers and MP’s it is not really possible to achieve those strategic goals that the incumbent PM himself, the acting PM and other members of the governing elite have pronounced. Ivars Godmanis was actually the first PM in Latvia who publicly announced that the model of Nordic welfare society and innovative economy is the strategic goal for Latvia to emulate. Many parliamentarians and government members in their scanty interviews also express similar ideas, but that is all rubbish because of three major reasons. First, to have the Nordic model as the government strategy it should also be reflected in the existing party programmers, which is simply not there yet. Second, personal experience of members of the present political elite about the Nordic model comes from trips to the Nordic capitals that was translated to them via official translators, it means that they have not really lived and experienced the lifestyle in democratic western society. Here Transport Supremo or Minister of Transport is a “noble exception” due to his studies in Norwegian folk-high school, but rather ironically his statements and also governance style reveal that he does not preach the Nordic model but the post-Soviet extreme form of neoliberalism instead. And finally one must also add the institutional governance culture in Latvia, which is simply path dependent and traditional. Here is the time to paraphrase the quote of the former Prime Minister of Russia, Mr. Victor Chernomyrdin, who once reflecting on new political parties in Russia ominously concluded that at the end ''they(parties) would be following the same line of the CPSU”. Rather similarly in Latvia it means that even if there are novel western ideas, they are transformed in the highest corridors of Latvian administration to such an extent, that they turn out to be no better than shaby post-soviet restrictive regulations.
In such an environment I do not expect substantial changes in Latvia in upcoming months to come. The international credit market crunch due to the US sub prime market collapse will leave impact on all world free trade regime economies. It will hit particularly hard fiscally irresponsible ones. Latvia with its antiquated tax code and utterly irresponsible almost 25% current account deficit is particularly vulnerable here. In addition to that the government has agreed with the local Public Regulator Office to rise electricity and gas rates up to 50%, and that will only increase the spiraling inflation in Latvia, unless the ongoing corruption scandals in Riga City Council do not overheat the dormant Latvian public.

Concluding remarks

Any Latvian prime minister’s tasks at present conditions are simply too big. I do not envy Prime Minister Godmanis, but he should realize that he also was a part of the existing governing elite all those years. It means that in case he reckons that he could outsmart the minigarchic families I believe he is naive. The corruptive cancer has left its cells in all levels of Latvian governance system due to the unforgivable delayed reforms, and the lack of control over public finances.

What need is there for Latvian president, speaker of the parliament, and the Maire of Riga being members of doctors guild if the public health system is on the brink of collapse due to unwillingness to reform the medical system that was created for the centrally planned industrial society?

What need is there after University of Latvia as the major centre of excellence, if the majority of the governing elite represented so far the Latvian Agricultural University (Ministers of Defense and Health included), and the Ministry of Education continues to rhyme under the tune of path dependency. The latter ministry is actually ill famous for believing that Latvia is among the most successful countries implementing norms and principles of the Bologna Declaration into Latvian education system. What is the need for European quality and efficiency norms transplanted without democratic VALUES of the political and administrative elite in Latvia???

Without values that form institutional culture, Latvian state shall continue to have high fluidity of civil servants fresh from universities, and thus churn out post-Soviet milieu of centralized and ineffective public administration. How to change that, one may wonder????

Very simple, there is a need for political elite to stop endemic corruption by changing antiquated tax code, political party finance mechanism, and finally by implementing the mandatory income declaration system without customary delays.

For such transformative events to happen there is a need after renewed pressure from the civil society. Implosion of TB/LNNK and shake up of the New Era parties attest about uneasiness of members of governing elite about their future. The new Centrist party of Messrs Štokenbergs and Pabriks should be founded in March. Conservative Democratic party of Mr Kristovskis and Mme Kalniete is formed as well. It means that transfiguration of the political playground takes place and it is good news now, prior price hikes on electricity and gas, and increasıng number of corrupt members of the present Latvian elite becoming public.

P.S. Those of you reading Estonian here is a piece I wrote for Postimees.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

After a week in Istanbul

I am in Besiktas for a week now. Instead of winterly sun it was blizzard and snowpiles expecting me in Istanbul. It is sunny again and I am busy reading and writing. The wi-fi system is down at home thus I am able to access internet only durıng evenings. With this message I wanted to let you know that everything is fine in Istanbul and I have been busy following BBC 'Inside Russia' series. 'Hard Talk' host Stephen Sackur had spectacular interviews with Andrei Margelov, A. Peskov, Yegor Gaidar (oh man he was scared...) and today with Andrei Lugovoi. For those of you who have not seen those interviews, and are interested in Russian future scenarios, I really reccomend you the aforementioned series from

Latvian political system ıs facing reconfiguration of the political space. Rather uniquely the PM announced that the fate of Transport Supremo (A. Slesers) very much depends on his ability to manage Latvian Post Plc. Hmmm, interesting, is it really an end to the greasy pole for ''kickboxer''? Anyway, there are couple of more corruption scandals in the Riga City Council, and I assume that the Latvian minigarhs have changed accents lately. It means that the importance of the central government has decreased in theır calculations. One may wonder why?

Because there is too much media attention and one must really be accountable to the Western partners. Transport Supremo in January announced about his intentions to run for the maire of Riga City Council office. Is it because there are still many lucrative chunks of real estate and media traditionally does not focus thus much on the municipal level of governance or because he predicts that Latvian Post Plc. ıs busted and so would go his fortunes as a mınıster?

Only Transport Supremo knows major reasons behind his thinking, thus shall see how the Latvian anti-corruption politics develops. After all the spring could bring not only unexpected blizzard but also political developments. Thats it so far, and shall be back with more analysis as soon as the wi-fi system would be fixed early next week. Ismarladık or good-bye and talk to you soon as they say here!

P.S. Those of you reading Latvian may find my thoughts in Diena.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Estonians and Latvians

Veiko Spolitis: Eestlased ja lätlased

Veiko Spolitis, Riia Stradinshi ülikool, politoloog,

Kuigi lätlased on ehk natuke kadedad selle peale, et Eesti on siiamaani ikka veel euroopalikum kui Läti, hoiavad nad pöialt Kikule, Andrus Veerpalule ja teistele eesti sportlastele. Läti koolilapski teab Tartu Ülikooli, aga ka seda, et Eestis on pensionid paremad ja palgad suuremad.

Eestlasi on praeguse Läti territooriumil elanud juba muistsest ajast, kuid Balti riikide omariikluse hilisuse tõttu saame eesti kogukonnast Lätis rääkida alles vabariigi loomise aajast. Riia oli ja on siiani Balti riikide suurim metropol ja eestlased on olnud selle multikultuurilise linna koostisosa. Iga eesti ajaloohuviline teab jutte Eesti soomusrongidest Riia all, kuid selle seiga müütilisuse tõttu ei meeldi lätlastele selle meeldetuletamine.

Kangekaelsed eestlased

Läti vabariigi algusaastail elas Riias kui Tsaari-Venemaa läänepoolseimas ja ühes majanduslikult arenenumas linnas tugev eestlaskond, umbes 7000 inimest. Pärast Vabadussõda otsustasid paljud neist oma elu siduda Eesti Vabariigiga.

Üks tuntumaid Riia eestlasi oli Eesti diplomaatia raudvara Ernst Jaakson. Seda teavad kindlasti eesti diplomaadid ja ehk ka osa Läti diplomaatilisest korpusest, kuid keskmine lätlane sellest teab sama palju kui keskmine eestlane sellest, et Läti vanim tudengikorporatsioon korp! Lettonia on asutatud Tartus. Enne teist Maailmasõda elasid eestlased Lätis kogukonniti ja nende kultuurielu oli mitmekesine. Eestlasi oli proportsionaalselt küll vähe, aga nad olid siiski küllalt tähtsad, et Läti poliitikud valimistel nende hääli jahiksid, nagu ka Riia saksa, juudi ja vene kogukondade omi.

Kui tänapäeval on kolme Balti riigi presidentide kohtumised saanud harilikuks, siis Läti ja Eesti viimased presidendid Ulmanis ja Päts enne Nõukogude okupatsiooni ei kohtunudki. Olukorras, kus omariiklus tuli alles luua ja rinda pista ülemaailmse majanduskriisiga, tundsid lätlased rohkem huvi Euroopa suurte rahvaste käekäigu vastu. Muidugimõista esines kontakte piiriäärsetel aladel, lõunaeestlastel oli hobusekoormaga Riiga lähem minna kui Tallinna. Selle ajastu eestlaste pärandi tõendiks on Riia tänavanimetused — Tērbatas, Tallinnas, Pērnavas, Veru, Vīlandes, Hapsalas iela.

Tihedamad kontaktid eestlaste, lätlaste ja ka leedulaste vahel algasid just tänu Nõukogude okupatsioonile, sellele järgnenud eksiilile läänemaailmas ja asumiselviibimisel Siberis. Nõukogude okupatsioon muutis Balti rahvaste traditsioonilist vahendajarolli ja jättis raudse eesriide taga Balti riikide rahvastele võimaluse koostööd teha.

Seega õppisid lätlased eestlasi tundma nii Moskva ametliku propaganda kui isiklike kontaktide kaudu. Lätlased teadsid, et Eestis on küll samasugune nõukogude kord nagu neil, kui nad teadsid ka seda, et erinevalt lätlastest keelduvad eestlased kangekaelselt vene keeles suhtlemast.

Kuumaverelised ja sirge seljaga eestlased

Iseseisvusaeg saabus Balti nõukogude vabariikides peaaegu samal ajal, kuid lätlased pole siiski siiani jõudnud IME-sarnase programmini, „kodulätlaste“ poliitikani ja rahvusraamatukogu loomiseni. Rahvarinne ja kodanike kongressid tegid mõlemas riigis oma tööd; vabadusvõitlusalane koostöö jättis aga lätlastele tunde, et eestlased on küll nende ustavad sõbrad, kuid käivad siiski sirge seljaga oma teed.

Läti intellektuaalid mõistsid, et Lennart Meri mõtles oluliselt teistmoodi kui nõukogudemeelne nomenklatuur Lätis. Eestis toimunud muutused, mis ei leidnud aset siiski mitte ainult tänu Lennart Meri moraalsele autoriteedile, mõjusid Läti elanikkonnale juba 1990. aastate algul signaalina, et Eesti tee erineb Lätist mitmeti.

Seda ei märganud lätlased mitte ainult meedia vahendusel, vaid ka tänu aina suurenevale eesti ettevõtjate hulgale Riias ja ka mujal Lätis. 1990. aastate keskpaigast pärinevad Riiast anekdoodid „kuumaverelistest“ eestlastest. Seegi annab tõestust Eesti teistsugusest teest, mis rõhutas majanduslikku ja poliitilist avatust.

Erinevalt 19. sajandist ei pea tänapäeva Eesti ei pidanud püsivalt Riias elama. Via Baltica võimaldab neil Riias tööl käia ja nädalavahetustel kodus Eestis viibida. Riias loodud Stockholmi kõrgem majanduskool annab peale läti tudengitele majandusalast kõrgharidust nii noortele leedulastele kui ka eestlastele, ühtlasi koostööd soodustades.

Satelliit- ja internetitehnoloogiad ei võimalda mitte ainult eesti ettevõtjatel, vaid ka Läti Eesti kogukonnal elus hoida virtuaaleestlust. Seega on lätlased eestlasi jälle märkamas ning koos kultuuriliste, poliitiliste ja majandussidemetega loomas tänapäevast arusaama Eestist ja eestlastest.

Lätlased märkavad mahajäämust

Lätlaste arusaamist eestlastest võib lihtsustatult käsitleda kolmes valdkonnas — kultuuri mõju, majanduse saavutused ja poliitilised sündmused. Kultuuri mõjust rääkides — iga läti koolilaps teab müütilist Tartu (Tērbata) Ülikooli arvukate Läti esimese ärkamisaja tegelaste pärast, kes seal õppisid. Kuigi ajastuomasemalt ütleks nooruk ilmselt, et tema jaoks seostub Eestiga eelkõige Kalevi piparmündinäts või Vana Tallinn.

Nõukogude ajal teadis iga lätlane rääkida, et Eestis saab vaadata Soome televisiooni. Sellega oli lätlastel tekkinud arusaam, nagu oleks eestlased ja soomlased justkui rohkem vennasrahvad, kui seda on näiteks lätlased ja leedulased.

Enamiku lätlaste arusaam eestlastest tekkis muide tänu Saaremaale, kuigi siinjuures ei saa silmist lasta fakti, et lätlastel endil saari lihtsalt ei ole. Ja muide, ka eestlaste Munamägi on ligi seitse meetrit lätlaste „kõrgest mäest“ kõrgem.

See on vahest tugevdanud lätlaste teatavast alaväärsustunnet, mis väljendub näiteks siis, kui Läti korvpallimeeskond peab maavõistlust Eesti korviküttidega. Läti spordihuvilised unustavad siis alati, et nii Eesti kui ka Läti korvpallikoondised jäävad alati alla Leedu korvpalluritele. Siiski: kui lätlased vaatavad spordivõistlusi, kus nende esinejad ei võistle, siis hoiavad nad alati pöialt Kikule, Andrus Veerpalule, Erki Noolele või Virgilijus Aleknale.

Lätlastele meeldib Tallinna külastada. Kumu on muutunud endast lugupidava Läti intellektuaali külastusobjektiks, sest Lätis pole siiamaani kaasaegse kunsti muuseumi ja nüüdisaegset kontserdisaali, ka riigi haldussüsteem on korrastamata.

Lätis puuduvad siiani nii mitmed riigi liberaaldemokraatlikule toimimisele vajalikud aluselemendid (kohustust tulu deklareerida ei ole siiamaani ja õiguskantsleri amet loodi alles eelmisel aastal). Eesti krooni sisseseadmine näitas, kui äpud tegelikult olid tookordsed Läti poliitikud, kes on pidanud sellest ajast saadik kõvasti pingutama, et eestlasi matkida ja nendele järele jõuda.

Isegi riigi sünnipäev on eestlastel enne

Sellise omavahelise võistlusega Balti ühtsus küll murenes, kuid see aitas Lätil Eestile kiiremini järele jõuda ja korraga euroliitu astuda. Tavakodanik selliste asjade peale enamasti ei mõtle. Teda huvitab rohkem see, et Tallinnas on uhke sadam ja kerkivad pilvelõhkujad, Eestis on korras maanteed, kauplused on teistsugust ja natuke odavamat kaupa täis, palgad on suuremad, pensionid kõrgemad ehk siis — et Eesti on Lätist ees.

Seda, et Eesti on Lätist ees, on kindlasti võimaldanud Eesti haldussüsteemi korrastatus ja majanduse avatus. Eesti on viimase viie aasta jooksul olnud Läti suuremaid kaubanduspartnereid ja välisinvestoreid. Lätlane ei tunne küll Eesti kohukest, seevastu teab ta, mis on Microlinki arvuti, Skype, Tallink ja Hansapank. Eks oska küll lätlasedki rääkida Skandinaavia mõjudest, kuid nende jaoks on nimetatud kaubamärgid siiski eestlaste loodud.

Keskmine lätlane teab, et Eesti on Lätist arengu poolest mõned aastad ees, ning põhjendab seda vahest ekslikult Soome mõjuga. Läti intellektuaal teab, et nii keskealine lätlane ja eestlane eelistavad välissuhetes vene keelt, aga ta on märganud ka seda, et Eesti valitsusametnike inglise keele oskus on lätlaste omast parem. Keelevaist ja avatus muule maailmale pole aga tühistatnud eestlaste omapära lätlaste silmis.

Läti kodanikel tuleb leppida, et siiani on Eesti euroopalikum kui Läti, kas või selle pärast, et Lätil pole viisavabadust USA-ga veel ette näha. Eesti on juba aastaid ehitamas igavat Põhjamaad, samas kui Ivars Godmanis nimetas Läti esimese peaministrina esmakordselt Läti soovi minna Põhjala teed alles viimases vana-aasta lõpu pöördumises.

Ja viimaks: Eesti Vabariigi 90. aastapäev on aasta alguses, isegi sellega on alles novembris oma 90. sünnipäeva pidav Läti Vabariik mõnevõrra Eestist maha jäänud.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Totalitarian roots of Latvian democracy

Demokrātija ar totalitārisma saknēm

Dr. Axel Reetz un Veiko Spolītis, politologi

Kopš neatkarības atjaunošanas Latvijas politiskā elite ir mērķtiecīgi centusies atgriezties pie 1918.gadā izveidotās republikas vērtībām. Valstiskā pārmantojamība ir nenoliedzami svarīga starptautiski tiesiskās suverenitātes saglabāšanai, tomēr līdz ar starptautiskās suverenitātes un 1920.gada Satversmes pārmantošanu Latvijai ir vilkušās līdzi gan 1920–1930.gadu nelaimes, gan arī izaicinājumi, kurus aukstā kara beigas un vispasaules brīvā tirgus režīms uzspieda valstīm neatkarīgi no to lieluma. Satversmes tēvi, strādājot pagājušā gadsimta sākumā, pauda ne tikai kontinentālās Eiropas tiesību tradīcijas, bet — vēl jo svarīgāk — Eiropas kopējās vērtības. Tāpēc pēc vēsturiskajiem 1989.gada notikumiem Latvijas valstiskuma atjaunotāji, dzīvodami totalitārisma apstākļos, pat neapjauta, ka Rietumeiropas valstu politiķu un vēlētāju attiecības nosaka citas vērtības. Proti, Latvijas atjaunotā valstiskuma autori neapzinājās, ka, atjaunojot 1920.gada Satversmi un izdarot tajā nepieciešamās izmaiņas[1], viņiem 1990.gadu sākumā bija jāiepazīstas arī ar valdošajām demokrātisko režīmu vērtībām Rietumeiropā. Labojot Satversmi un neveicinot demokrātiskās kultūras pilnveidošanos (to bija grūti prasīt no totalitārismu pārdzīvojušajiem), 1990.gadu sākuma Latvijas politiķi aizsāka pilnveidot politikas saturu, kurš tikai veicināja padomju labāko tradīciju bezatbildību un valsts varas mazspēju.

"Esmu stabilitātes garants"

1963.gadā, aukstā kara vidū, kad Latvijas iedzīvotāji bija spiesti pievienoties padomju režīma ideoloģiskajai cīņai pret "vispasaules imperiālismu", Geibriels Almonds (Gabriel Almond) un Sidnijs Verba (Sidney Verba) centās atrast atbildi jautājumam: kādai ir jābūt politiskajai kultūrai, lai funkcionētu liberāla demokrātija[2]? Autori uzskatīja — lai pienācīgi darbotos demokrātisks režīms, tam ir jābūt tiesiskam (leģitīmam iedzīvotāju skatījumā), konstitucionālajiem un institucionālajiem jautājumiem ir jābūt vispārpieņemtiem, jo par valsts uzbūvi (polity) valsts efektīvas darbošanās labā nav jādiskutē.

Latvijas publiskajā telpā diemžēl joprojām turpinās diskusija par konstitucionālajiem un institucionālajiem jautājumiem, kamēr politikas satura (policy) jautājumi netiek diskutēti un tos bez plašākām diskusijām dažkārt arī slepeni nolemj valdības līmenī[3]. Tā jautājumi, kas skar visus sabiedrības locekļus, piemēram, smēķēšanas aizliegšana publiskās vietās vai profesionālas armijas ieviešana, nemaz nenonāca publisko diskusiju telpā. Latvijas izpildvara šādi uztur t.s. “sakārtotāja” tēlu, kurš patiesībā veicina bezatbildīgu politiku un vienlaicīgi ļauj ērti apkalpot sevišķo grupu intereses. Ļoti uzkrītoši šāda interešu grupu apkalpošana Aigara Kalvīša valdībai izpaudās 2006.gada beigās, izmantojot Saeimas brīvdienas un Satversmes 81. panta kārtībā mainot drošības likumus. Šajā gadījumā postpadomju Latvijas iedzīvotājiem veicās, jo Valsts prezidenta amatā vēl atradās Vaira Vīķe—Freiberga, kura nav LPSR nomenklatūras pārstāve[4].

Turpinot nepārtraukto diskusiju par valsts uzbūves (polity) tēmām, Latvijas politiķi rada par sevi ilūziju kā par atbildīgiem darba pirmrindniekiem, kuri līdzīgi komjaunatnei vispirms sev rada problēmas, lai pēc tam veiksmīgi “bauriem” rādītu, kā ar tām jācīnās.[5] Latvijas politiskā elite, sekojot PSKP tradīcijām un nomainot komunisma paradīzi ar saukli par “pareizajiem cilvēkiem”, baro Latvijas pilsoņus ar neizpildāmu uzdevumu solījumiem[6]. Šāds novērojums pirms deviņiem gadiem bija Aivaram un Ausmai Tabuniem: "daudziem sabiedrības locekļiem ir paternāla izpratne par demokrātiju — viņi uzskata, ka, "pareizajiem" cilvēkiem nonākot pie varas, situācija uzlabosies"[7], bet acīmredzot Latvijas pilsoniskās aprindas ir pārāk kūtras, lai saprastu, kur tad patiesi slēpjas Latvijas pilsoniskās neuzticēšanās valdībai problēmu saknes. Šādi Latvijas pilsoniskās sabiedrības grupas bez spiediena uz izpildvaru, lai tā risinātu primāros jautājumus, nodarbojas ar sekundāras dabas jautājumiem, un piemēram, avīžu lappusēs sevišķi gados vecākiem ļaudīm kā vienīgo pozitīvo lietu šajā valstī ļaujot baudīt “mītiskos Ulmaņa laikus”.

Patiesībā Latvijas iedzīvotāji ir neapmierināti ar rīcībpolitikas rezultātu (policy output), un tas visspilgtāk izpaudās t.s. lietussargu sanāksmes laikā. Salīdzinot Latviju ar Igauniju un Lietuvu vai Skandināvijas un Rietumeiropas valstīm, Latvijas ierindas pilsoņi nesamēro valstu uzbūvi, bet gan labklājības, korupcijas, cenu un nodokļu politiku. Kamēr Latvijā nekritiski un dažkārt sasteigti tiek diskutēts par vēlēšanu likuma izmaiņām[8], citu valstu pilsoņi ir uzmanīgi. Ppiemēram, Venecuēlas prezidents Hugo Čavess (Hugo Chavez) 2007.gadā izsludināja referendumu ar mērķi mainīt konstitūciju, kas viņam ļautu turpināt būt prezidenta amatā ilgāk nekā divus termiņus, tomēr vairākums Venecuēlas pilsoņu noraidīja šādu piedāvājumu. Arī G.Almonds un S.Verba tālajā 1963.gadā atklāja, ka tikmēr, kamēr iedzīvotāji nav mierā ar demokrātiskās sistēmas rezultātiem, tie turpina gaidīt un meklēt ideālo vadoni.[9]

Pašiem politiķiem šāda fiktīvas atbildības un valstiski svarīgo uzdevumu mīta uzturēšana ir izdevīga. Politiķu melīga atbildības uzņemšanās par nekonkrētas tautas (kas ir tauta?) interesēm tikai dezorientē vēlētājus un atsvešina pilsoņus no līdzdalības demokrātiska režīma pašpārvaldē. Mainīt Satversmi bez divu trešdaļu vairākuma organizēšanās dažādu Saeimas politisko spēku vidū ir neiespējami. To Latvijas politiķi zina un tāpēc spēj pieņemt lēmumus, kas ir izdevīgi tikai šauram personu lokam, kamēr nozīmīgākie politikas satura jautājumi tiek ļoti izdevīgi atstumti malā. Vienīgi sajūtot sabiedrības spiedienu, Saeimas un valdības politiķi ir gatavi “neērto” jautājumu diskusijai. Ļoti zīmīgi, bet pēc tam kad Vairas Vīķe—Freiberga apturēja drošības iestāžu likumus, toreizējais premjers Aigars Kalvītis (TP) uzreiz paziņoja, ka līdz 2008.gada 1.janvārim Latvijā tiks ieviesta obligātā sākumdeklarēšanās sistēma[10]. Līdzīgi notika pēc 14.oktobra piketa pie Saeimas, kad koalīcijas deputāti paziņoja par Korupcijas novēršanas un apkarošanas (KNAB) priekšnieka Alekseja Loskutova atstāšanu amatā.

Šodienas Latvijas publisko finanšu sistēmas un demokrātiskā režīma mūsdienīgai funkcionēšanai patiesībā ir akūti nepieciešama trīs jautājumu risināšana. Pirmkārt, lai Valsts ieņēmumu dienests (VID) varētu runāt par realitātei atbilstošu iedzīvotāju finanšu līdzekļu izlietojumu, ir nepieciešama mantiskā un nodokļu sākumdeklarēšanās sistēma. Otrkārt, lai samazinātu nesamērīgu interešu grupu ietekmi uz politiskajām partijām, ir nepieciešams mainīt partiju finansēšanas modeli, uzsākot partijas finansēt no valsts budžeta un liekot Tautas partijai un LPP/LC samaksāt sodu par vēlēšanu kampaņas pārtēriņu[11]. Visbeidzot būtu jāveic grozījumi Krimināllikumā, lai šādi aizstātu Latvijā tradicionālās „ģimeņu autoritātes” ar likuma un racionālas autoritātes varu, un uz Ministru kabineta sēžu zāles sienas rakstītie viedie vārdi “Viens likums, viena taisnība visiem” patiesi tiktu ievēroti, nevis piemēroti koalīcijas vairākuma untumiem[12].

Likumsakarīgie satricinājumi

Latvijas politiskie un ekonomiskie satricinājumi 2007.gadā bija likumsakarīgi, jo tie skaidri atspoguļoja Latvijas varas elites nepietiekošo izpratni par demokrātisku pārvaldi. Kaismīgākie Eiropas liberālo vērtību aizstāvji, aicinot atlaist Saeimu, velk paralēles ar Eiropas vecajām demokrātijām un norāda, ka Eiropas Rietumu daļā tādas lietas kā Latvijā gan nevarētu notikt. Bet šāds salīdzinājums nav īsti godīgs pret pašu salīdzināšanas kategoriju metodi. Proti, salīdzināt Latviju ar Rietumeiropas valstīm būtu tas pats, kas, interesējoties par augļu cukura saturu, salīdzināt banānus un sīpolus. Piemēram, atšķirībā no Rietumeiropas kaimiņiem, Latvijā VID īsti nepārzina reālo Latvijas iedzīvotāju mantisko stāvokli, un kā apliecinājums valsts tiesībsargājošo iestāžu mazspējai tika radīts KNAB, jo citādi Latvijā nebija iespējams pārcirst tradicionālo korporatīvo saišu Gordija mezglu.

Lai apzinātos, ka valsts administrācijas rīcība atbilst Satversmei, 2007.gadā pēc sīvām debatēm par atbilstošāko tiesībsarga amata kandidātu beidzot tika nodibināts Tiesībsarga birojs. Savukārt valdošās elites vērtību pārstāvji turpina dzīvot “Jēkaba ielas varas burbulī” un tā vietā, lai vismaz noalgotu zinošus sociālo zinātņu ekspertus, kas izskaidrotu uzticības krīzes iemeslus Latvijā, turpina meklēt vainīgos „tīklveida” struktūrās, ceturtajā varā vai citās mītiem apvītajās “melnajās avīs”.[13]

Latvijas sabiedrības neuzticība valdībai patiesībā slēpjas lielas daļas iedzīvotāju zināšanu trūkumā par pilsoniskajām vērtībām, un tas atspoguļo šodienas valdošās elites astoņpadsmit gadu laikā neizdarītos mājas darbus. Valdošās elites cerības, ka Latvijas pilsoņi iemācīsies demokrātiskas sabiedrības spēles noteikumus, reizi četros gados piedaloties Saeimas, pašvaldību un Eiropas parlamenta vēlēšanās, ir tikpat aušīgas kā trenerim, kurš pamet bērnus ar bumbu laukumā un ļauj viņiem bez padoma bumboties, tā cerot, ka no tiem izaugs lielmeistari. Ja bērni redz, ka citu treneru trenēti bērni gūst labākus sasniegumus, tad pašu treneris bērnu acīs ierasti zaudē uzticību, kuru var atgūt tikai ar jaunu brīnumu solīšanu. Vēl ir iespējama arī vecāku iejaukšanās un attiecīgu lēmumu pieņemšana, un tad mums ir jāvelk nozīmīgas paralēles reālajā dzīvē ar Latvijas sabiedrotā un stratēģiskā partnera ASV rīcību pagājušā gada rudenī.

Uzticības stikla siena

Uzticības kredīta iegūšana un zaudēšana šodienas informācijas piesātinātības laikmetā ir saistīta ar valdošās elites spēju algot sava aroda sabiedrisko attiecību pratējus. Masu politikas laikmets ar elektronisko masu saziņas palīdzību rada ilūziju par pārvaldes visuresamību. Patiesībā vienkāršiem vēlētājiem šāda informācijas plūsma cik ātri ietek pa vienu ausi iekšā, tikpat ātri iztek pa otru ausi ārā. No vienas puses, šāds “neizglītots” vēlētājs, iespējams, apvainosies, ka mēs viņu nosaucam par “neizglītotu”, bet arī niķīgi bērni apvainojas, kad viņiem vecāki uzliek pienākumu sistemātiski gatavot mājasdarbus[14]. No otras puses Latvijas šodienas demokrātiskās vērtības nepārzinošie politiskās elites pārstāvji turpina populistiski apelēt pie tautas interesēm, šādi manipulējot ar sabiedrisko domu un divkosīgi turpinot melot sev un sabiedrībai, ka viņi kaut ko dara pilsoniskās sabiedrības izglītošanas labā. Valstij patiesībā nav nepieciešams pildīt pilsoniskās sabiedrības pienākumus, jo valsts liberālā demokrātijā izpilda vidutāja funkcijas. Pretēji vidutāja jēdzienam šodienas politiskā elite ir izveidojusi elitāri korporatīvas grupas, kuru izdzīvošana ir tiešā veidā atkarīga no t.s. piekļūšanas administratīvajiem resursiem, un šāda nevienlīdzība starp korporatīvajām grupām tikai veicina neuzticību sabiedrībā. Tāpēc, lai vēlētāju deleģēta varas elite atgūtu uzticību, ir nepieciešams veikt virkni neatliekamu uzdevumu, ko kaimiņi igauņi un lietuvieši izdarīja jau pagājušā gadsimta 1990.gadu sākumā un kas gadu no gada attālina mūs no mūsu kaimiņu sasniegumiem ekonomisko, e-pārvaldes un politisko brīvību jomā.[15]

Nav nepieciešams jaukt primāros uzdevumus ar sekundārajiem, un vispirms ir jāveic tie uzdevumi, kas ļautu pilnībā testēt konstitucionālā satvara (t.i., arī vēlēšanu likuma) pozitīvās un negatīvās īpašības. Mantas un nodokļu sākumdeklarēšana ir pirmais uzdevums, kurš nozīmīgi uzlabotu valsts spēju efektīvi darboties, samazinot korupciju (valsts nozagšanu) un šādi vairojot tiesiskumu iedzīvotāju acīs. Tikai tad, ja valdošā elite spēs vienoties šo lēmumprojektu pieņemšanā tuvākā pusgada laikā, varēsim beidzot runāt par Latvijas liberāldemokrātisku attīstības ceļu. Pretējā gadījumā šodienas politiskās elites komjauniešu stila “valsts notrallināšana” turpināsies. Pēdējā attīstības scenārija gadījumā var rasties ļoti pamatots jautājums, kāpēc šāda SIA „Latvijas Republika” vispār ir nepieciešama.


[1] Pēc neatkarības atjaunošanas Satversmē kā vieni no pirmajiem tika ieviesti sekojoši konstitucionāli uzlabojumi — 5% ievēlēšanas barjera, četru gadu Saeimas sasaukuma termiņš, un, parakstot ANO Cilvēktiesību deklarāciju, arī cilvēktiesības ieguva sev pienācigu vietu Latvijas konstitucionālajā satvarā.

[2] Almond, Gabriel/Sidney, Verba: The Civic Culture. Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations, Princeton 1963

[3] Reetz, Axel: Demos, kratos, evimeria,, 28.08.2007

[4] 2007.gada 10.martā Valsts prezidente Vaira Vīķe—Freiberga pirmoreiz Latvijas vēsturē izmantoja savas Satversmes 72.pantā paredzētās tiesības un apturēja drošības iestāžu likumu publicēšanu.

[5] Jura Bojāra Satversmes grozījumu projekts, kā arī Jāņa Urbanoviča (Saskaņas Centrs) priekšlikums par atsaucamo deputātu intervijā žurnālam Nedēļa, 23.4.2007, Daiņa Īvāna atbalsts tautas vēlētam prezidentam un ekspremjera Aigara Kalvīša atkārtoti ierosinātā diskusija par tautas vēlētu prezidentu, kamēr Jānis Urbanovičs dod priekšroku mažoritārai vēlēšanu sistēmai

[6] Intervija ar ekspremjeru Andri Bērziņu 2001. gada 9. martā Latvijas Vēstnesī, ar Ivaru Godmani Kurzemniekā 2005.gada 28. martā un Ingrīdas Ūdres uzruna LZS kongresā 2003. gada 1. martā

[7] Tabuns, Aivars / Tabuna, Ausma: Estranged Europeans - sociological investigation of Latvian society; in: Humanities and Social Sciences 1(22)/99, S.26ff. Oriģināls angļu valodā: „many people in society have a paternalistic perception of democracy, believing that ,if the right people are in power’, the situation will improve“

[8] 2007. g. 31. maijā notika Vēlēšanu reformas biedrības dibināšanas sanāksme. Valdes priekšsēdētājs
ir Rīgas Domes Jauna Laika deputāts Valdis Liepiņš, izpilddirektors Indulis Bērziņš,

[9] Putniņa, Aivita: Strādāsim vai noalgosim Antiņu? Intervija , 11.09.2001

[10] Valdība akceptē fizisko personu īpašumu un ienākumu deklarēšanas kārtību, LETA, 20.03.07

[11] KNAB 13.09.2007 lēmums Nr. 1/8953 par 2007. gada 24. maija administratīvo pārkāpumu lietā Nr. 870/1-24/65

[12] Makss Vēbers par līdzīgu tradicionālās autoritātes pāreju uz racionāli tiesisku autoritāti runāja jau beigās un sākuma Vācijā. Max Weber, Parlament und Regierung im neugeordneten Deutschland. Zur politischen Kritik des Beamtentums und Parteiwesens, Duncker & Humblot, München, Leipzig 1918., Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, Tübingen, 1985. Teil 1, Kapitel 1, § 16; Kapitel 3.

[13] Guntars Laganovskis, NVO un valsts. Vai sabiedrotie?, Latvijas Vēstnesis Plus, 01.12.2005; Ervīns Labanovskis,Vai ir iespējams atjaunot sabiedrības uzticību Valsts varai?, Delfi, 2007. gada 2. novembris.

[14]Veiko Spolītis un Dr. Axel Reetz, Ilgas pēc nevainīgas politikas,, 2007. gada. 27 martā. Online komentāros ar segvārdu „Aita“ kāds lasītājs izteicās: “Mani gluži vienkārši aizvaino apgalvojums : „Daļai Latvijas sabiedrības ir psiholoģiski grūti apzināties, ka viņi ir atkrituši kalpa, strādnieka vai „biroja žurkas” kārtā (...) Tāpēc, neskatoties uz demokrātiskā režīma panākumiem (...), iedzīvotāji atsvešinās no politikas. Gandrīz ceturtā daļa Latvijas vēlētāju nespēj apzināties savu spēju varējumu tirgus ekonomikas apstākļos, veicina formālas politiskās kultūras fona atražošanu un kalpo par auglīgu augsni dažādajām „sazvērestības teorijām““.

[15] Skat: 16.lpp. un
RegionB_Europe.pdf 2.lpp., un 20.lpp.

Publicēts portālā 2008. gada 12. februārī

Monday, February 11, 2008

Good bye ...

My plane to Istanbul is departing in six hours. Latvian weather is now very similar to the political landscape out there, it is murky. Dissintegration of the Fatherland Union (TB/LNNK) party takes place in earnest, and today 39 members of the party left the flock, for example. Different media channels were arguing whether TB/LNNK had actually 2000 or only 500 members. For the country with the 2,37 mlj population party membership ratio to the size of population is very poor. I do not have the comapartive data with me, but if I am not mistaken them Mr Daunis Auers from University of Latvia is expert on this particular issue, and would have to come back to the exact numbers soon.

Anyway, while TB/LNNK is in agony rest of the Latvian old guard political "establishment" stays calm. It feels as if it is "quiet before the storm", becuse rumours ar whirling all around about this and that, or former and present politician being caught or smeared, but nothing is official yet. Latvians are no different from other nations in Europe and they love gossip. The difference is, however, that other European citizens with their love for gossip at least try to preserve their liberal democratic regime. It feels as if Latvians do not really care about the future of their state, beause the principle - I hate politics because its dirty by definition and I dont care and dont understand it is thus overwhelming in average discussions in public transport or local municipality, that it is just becoming too much to bear after a while:)

Last Friday Riga New Theatre (Jaunais Rīgas Teātris) director Mr Alvis Hermanis had an excellent essay in KDiena. In his esseay he convincingly argued about the shallowness of the traditional culture dicourse in today's Latvia, and about the widspread myth on the exceptionalism of latvianness. Rather pointedly he brought out the verbatim quoting of some foreign visitor in Latvia who noticed already during the early 1990's, that, "Latvians have this exceptional ability to believe into two totally contradictory issues at the same time". It is 2008 - and how far the old guard Latvian political elite have led the common Latvian?

Commoners still very much belive here, that while entrusting the night watchman duty of the representative democracy to "right people (labieši)" once in four year political cycle everything will be solved in their Latvian motherland, BUT, of course WITHOUT their own involvement because politics is dirty by definition...

Latvians are behind their Baltic cousins in many ways, and symbolically also in celebrating their 90th Anniversary. Lietuva shall celebrate their 90th Independence Day in four days, and Eesti in less than two weeks, congratulations!!!!

Latvians must wave good byes to the political old guards first. While Latvian political culture witnesses transformation from Weberian traditional to rational - legal authority, I am sitting into the Airbaltic jet and flying down South to work on my dissertation research. Update of my blog would continue alas not at such a fast pace anymore. Blog entries would become more anlytical and would probably have also some flavour from the Sea of Marmaris.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Politics as grey as a sky

Probably rather many of my blog customary readers expect some news from ''transformational Latvia''. Unfortunately skies are as gray as Latvian politics during last couple of weeks. Instead of winter it just rains, rains and rains...and thus also neverending news pour down from newsreels inLatvia, whether they be about two corrupt judges jailed this week, or former Russian Ambassador (Mr Victor Kaluzhny) son's business partner German Milush from Jurmala still being on run from Interpol, and other Latvian minigarhs and crooks waiting for their indictment... .

I am leaving for warmer climes day after tomorrow, and it would somehow limit the number of blog entries. Nevertheless, as I was already stating it earlier this week there is reconfiguration of the political landscape taking place right at this very moment. Actually it could also be called the change of political generations in Latvia. Rather omenously during the citadel of Latvian virtural democracy ''Kas notiek Latvija?'' TV show, there were no members from the ranks of the ''old guard'' political class present. There is no place for jubilant exclamations however, because these are prime ministers who traditionally lose battles and not oppositions who win them from the parliamentary power struggle point of view. Former PM Kalvitis did lose and Mr Godmanis stepped very much into his shoes, but there is no real functioning opposition yet.

For making opposition functional the ruptures of Latvian political status quo this week were laudatory. The New Era (JL) would probably become more coherent and unified in its policy proposals as a major opposition party after its March 2 congress, but I am afraid that the party would become also more nationalistic. Fatherland Union party (TB/LNNK) is dissintegrating and not just MP's (Anna Seile and probably also Gunaars Laicans), but also rank & file members leave the party now.

Grave digger of Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party (LSDSP)and member of the Riga City Council Janis Dinevics wants to make LSDSP more attractive to voters while stripping the word ''worker'' from the party logo and replacing the symbol rose with a more traditional symbol of the European social democracy - a carnation. Probably Mr Dinevics feels the cold breath of Messrs Pabriks and Stokenbergs on his neck, or maybe he has finally found some spare time from helping Mr Skele ''rubbish business'' in the Riga City Council? Anyway while some aspiring political forces look promising, particularly the old guard Latvian political mastodonts look surprisingly quiet.

Weather is grim and Latvian political playground is open for new players. Contest has just started prior July 2009 municipal and European Parliament elections. With the global economic downturn and Latvian overheated economy (the annual inflation rate already has jumped to 15.3% in early February) the playground might turn out to be nasty. Rather symbolically next week those will be the US and Russian new ambassadors arriving to Latvia. Is there competition continuing on this playground (read Mr Edward Lucas arguments in the ''New Cold War''), probably, and lets see what the grey skies shall bring to us.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Reconfiguration of the political landscape

LETA announced yesterday that also Inese Vaidere and Guntars Krasts (TB/LNNK-MEP) left Fatherland Union party, but apparently such news were premature. However, it was announced during the Latvian TV evening news that Mr Kristovskis (former TB/LNNK) and Sandra Kalniete (former JL) would form a new conservative party. Both persons were in the TV studio and confirmed such news.

There are many options for new constellations among political forces in the parliament and outside it. Probably there will be more news on Friday, thus it will be possible to analyse ongoing events. Right now, as my good friend Dr Axel Reetz omenously said, there is hardly a chance to use Western political science methods to predict future development of Latvian events, thus it is easier to use psychologists methodology instead... .

P.S. Now, with the new parties established it will take time to establish power base. Mr Štokenbergs&Pabriks already try hard, New Era (JL) is preparing for the emergency congress on March 1, probably Kalniete&Kristovskis will get something together. In the meantime news will be expected from Prosecutor General office about possibly new indictments vis-a-vis corrupt political minigarchs.
p.p.s. I still stick firmly to my belief that snap elections are needed in this country in order to make civil society feel that they can turn the tide!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Another party (TB/LNNK) split & the arrest of stocks

After rumours spreading, and the demand from the Fatherland Union Party (TB/LNNK) leader Mr Zīle to make up his mind, Mr Kristovskis quit the party today. Mr Kristovskis was followed by Guntars Krasts and Inese Vaidere, their former party buddies and fellow MEP's tonight, reported LETA. Major shake-up of the political landscape takes place this very moment, and probably next year's elections, possible fall of the Godmanis government, and personal reasons were among major factors pushing for such a quick changes in the right wing political parties. The governing coalition majority of 58-2 (Pabriks&Štokenbergs) might be affected by the move of Mr Kristovskis. Only God knows how swiftly the changes would unravel, but it seems that life is getting harder for some AAA team members, and that could lead to snap elections. Actually, only one thing is sure today - the false stability [stagnated political culture] so symbolic of the late 2006 is over and regrouping of politicians have started!

It means that majority of sessessionists from the JL would most probably form together with sessessionists from TB/LNNK a new right wing conservative party in Latvia. I am not a fun of exponential grown of the number of parties, but for the sake of cleaning up the Latvian political system the only thing I could say to the sessessionist MP's is good luck! But it would be hard for them to achieve considerable success without a help from some rich financier.

While the newly formed party members are searching for financiers (maybe they have already found him/her/them) the Prosecutor General office announced that all stocks belonging to the former maire of Ventspils and his family are arested in Latvia. The table from, below, shows the name of the company, the amount of Mr Lembergs and his family members stocks, and owners of stocks.

1. SIA «LSF Holdings» - 50%, kas pieder Anrijam Lembergan un Līgai Lembergai;
2. SIA «Baltic Juice Terminal» - 24.125%, kas pieder Anrijam Lembergan un Līgai Lembergai;
3. SIA «Mineral-Trans-Serviss» - 45%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
4. SIA «Seastar» - 45%,kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
5. SIA «Ventako» - 25%,kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
6. SIA «Ventbetons» - 25%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
7. SIA «Puses» - 20.923%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
8. SIA «Ventplac» - 33.34%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
9. SIA «Noord Natie Ventspils termināls» - 22.976%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
10. SIA «Ostas flote» - 48.5%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
11. SIA «Ventrans Rīga» - 33.06%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
12. AS «Ventbunkers» - 29.348%,kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
13. AS «Venceb» - 23.3%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
14. AS «Baltic coal terminal» - 15.12%,kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
15. AS «Kālija parks» - 45.12%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam;
16. AS «Ventspils tirdzniecības osta» - 30.241%, kas pieder Aivaram Lembergam, Līgai Lembergai un Anrijam Lembergam.

Democratic centralism - nurturing culture of irresponsibility

I want to argue that among central problems in Latvia is the Leninist tradition of democratic centralism. While being elected in the Salaspils town council and analyzing speeches and internal debates of Latvian parties I have come to conclusion, that Leninist apects are still very much alive and nurture the governance culture of irresponsibility. Instead of clear cut divisions between right or left, liberal or conservative policies Soviet educated politicians aspire to achieve the majority consensus with Leninist means.

It means that only limited discussions about policy differeces are tolerated in most town councils and parliamentary committees. Decisions are usually made in a narrow circle of party leadership without consulting the party members. Parliamentary debates that would allow to follow policy differences according to ideological lines do not take place in principle. It means that ideological differences in policy areas are not really contested, because nobody wants to find him/herself disfavoured by party elite, maire of the city or the minister. It means that instead of looking for the best possible solution for the problem the majority consensus must be found favouring very much the patriarchal minister, maire of the city or party leader. Dissent is not tolerated and considered as deviance from traditionally accepted norms [even the name for local council head [pagastvecis] reminds one of traditional patriarchy].

While the whole political system depends on the arbitrary will of the "governor" it slowly stagnates and promotes the culture of irresponsibility. My father loves to describe such system of irresponsibility by an old prowerb: "if they[governors] think that they are paying me, let them think that I am also working for them"). Thus, young members of the party are promoted not acording to their merits but subservience instead. And when someone dares questioning the authority of the "governor" he or she is stigmatized.

The method of democratic centralism in governing the party & state stems from V.I. Lenin and interestingly enough it is very much alive in post-Soviet Latvia. The democratic aspect of this method describes the freedom of members of the political party to discuss and debate matters of policy, but once the decision of the party is made by majority vote, all members are expected to uphold that decision. This latter aspect represents the centralism, but Lenin never really discussed problems stemming from policy proposals, because he never questioned his own omniscience. As Lenin described it, democratic centralism consisted of "freedom of discussion, unity of action".(Lenin, V. (1906), Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.), but he never asked the question - who initiates and forms agenda setting for discussion!?

Very much following the Lenininist method present leaders of Latvian political elite believe that they are omniscient, thus they do not see whether they are provided with correct or false information. Because within parties and government, not merits but subservience is honoured, "Latvian governors" continue living in self - made and promoted power bubble, and consider the information as nuisance when it comes from the Western partners, NGO's or civil society at large.

Only external pressure is able to change such system, because willingly the ruling clique would not give up their welfare even if it should bring the whole state collapsing with them. I guess that such iresponsible playing of Russian rulette have probably made some parliamentary members cautious, and that caused the frictions in opposition parties [JL&TB/LNNK MEP's] to erupt thus forcefully.

In the meantime reports today that work of the newly founded Ombudsman office was gruesome but very rich last year. Latvian Ombudsman Romāns Apsītis realized that the state still has a lot to do in order to make Latvian people to understand that also they have their basic rights. Only last year Ombudsman office (Tiesībsarga birojs) was flooded with 5122 petitions. Greatest areas of concern were rights to have a living space (661), rights on fair and due trial (576), good governance issues (441), demand to receive the information from the administration (407), rights on social welfare(335), and finally discrimination (304 ), torture(298),rights on freedom of movement(295), and rights on private property (287). Ombudsman has participated in 98 public events, workshops and seminars, and it shows that citzen's rights issues are still on agenda in Latvia, and only last year every third day of the year Ombudsman ofice had to lecture somwhere to someone in Latvia about their basic rights.

While Estonians and Lithuanians, for example, have their Ombudsman ofice since 1992 and 1994 respectively, Latvian office is in operation since January 2007. Changes in this corruption infected country are slow, but finally they have taken place thus it is possible to pay attention to the real contest between different policy issue areas.

For fostered change and cleaning up of the system there is a dire need for younger generation coming into politics. If they are not going to come, and that is a concern also for the incumbent PM Godmanis, I am afraid soon there will serious questions about sustainability of the sovereign statehood here.

For younger generation to come into Latvian politics PM must follow the omenous inscription above his seat in the cabinet of ministers["nobody is above the law"], and he could start by making a symbolic act. Mr Godmanis could ask his Transport Supremo [A. Šlesers] to take a full responsibility and resign from his office! You may ask why? Because Latvian Post Plc. is mismanaged [the misuse of funds (10mlj. lats) is investigated], State Audit Office discovered misuse of funds developing transit system on Russian-Latvian border [State Auditor Ms Ingūna Sudraba is bringing this case probably to court], and not only Latvian built roads but also roadsigns are the most expensive in Europe [it was noticed and reiterated also by the Latvian president in his 18.11.2007 speech]. If the incumbent PM would not have guts for such a "symbolic gesture", then it would be the confirmation about his utterances in his latest interview [Rīgas Laiks], saying, that it was Transport supremo who asked him [Ivars Godmanis] to go after the PM position...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Changes in elitist Latvian political landscape

After a group of prominent members split off from the New Era (JL) party there are rumours confirmed about Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis (MEP-TB/LNNK) planning to form a new right wing conservative party in Latvia. I do not want to question need for such party, but to put it simply, to have another right wing party in Latvia is a luxury for the AAA team.

The fact that ossified political landscape is shaken up is very good news indeed. Mr Štokenbergs plans to have a center to the left party, and it definitely will be an alternative for the Moscow engineered and Latvian secret police neglected (in comparison with EST) left wing politics in Latvia.

The fact that Latvia finally has an essential element for controlling public finances through the mandatory income declaration system, and there is a ombudsman office is a step in right direction. To test how well those essential innovations[for proper functioning of an accountble democratic system] work there is a need for more time. For maturation of the political system there is a need for upgraded tax legislature, and the upgrade could not happen without the mandatory income and property delaration system. Now with the innovations mentioned above there is finally a possiblity to test how well Latvian constitutional framework works [see forthcoming article together with Dr. Axel Reetz in]

I do not believe that someone "clean and pure" coming into Latvian politics would change the existing political culture. For that to happen there is a need for meticulous and persistent work, and THAT is quite impossible to expect from the "lost generation" born just after te Second World War, and who tries to ensure good retirement package for themselves, and sometimes with rather questionable methods [endemic corruption in Latvian].

Fresh blood transfusion is badly needed for the reshape of the traditional political landsape in Latvia, and to get proof for that just evaluate performance of the Saeima dynosaurs, Juris Dobelis for example. He philibusters in the parliament (Seaima) since 1995 with his friends without the need for accountability [the only legislature he promoted (wasn't even an author) was ill famous citicenship law (amended after presure from OSCE), and he still sleeps on those laurels] because his voters like him for his straight talk. Just look, 18% of the 9th Saeima is there from the 5th Saeima and government ... .You want to have names - Bresis, Kalniņš Imants, Tabūns, Turlais, Ābiķis, Lagzdiņš, Seile, Putniņš, Grīnblats, Rugāte, Leiškalns, Urbanovičs, Indulis Emsis, Andris Bērziņš, Gundars Bērziņš, Raimonds Pauls, Godmanis, Ozoliņš.

The shake up of the political landscape was long due and I very much hope that this would lead till snap elections. Latvian civil society badly needs snap elections to boost its own credibility, and convince swing voters (about 40% of total members of electors) that it is posible to channel their disatisfaction with the MP's open breach of law [one cannot expect for snail motion legal system to prosecute corrupt members of the political class in toto] into replacing those corrupt and stagnated politicians with new ones. Simply, until now the Latvian political class feels untouchable, because their collective God/masters always managed the system without really shaking it up and it only adds to their feeling of false superiority above the rest of society [see interviews with long serving MP's Imants Kalniņš, Raimonds Pauls].

p.s. There is an interesting interview with the incumbent PM Mr Ivars Godmanis in "Rīgas Laiks" February issue, and I will definitely come back and analyze it next week!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Almost TGIF

Usually folks are thankful to "Allmighty" for Friday evening because it signifies the end of the working week. I have long lost this feeling because work seems to be permanent, and for example, while one may have free days off during the week, one may also have very busy weekends. Anyway, while I should be happy for the very Friday evening I am working on abstracts for future conferences. Such activity is rather fun, and one may wonder why I should not be happy about this very Friday?

Because it is Friday evening and almost all day Latvian media was mulling through repercussions of the New Era (JL) party split. They did not have time to touch other issues [forget about world outside Latvia:-)] while there was barely a media channel touching this issue[JL split] outside Latvian borders (I did not check on Russia:). It is very traditional in Latvia to focus on internal developments, and the excuse was probably the fact that JL is the largest opposition party in the Saeima after all. In the meantime characteristics of the lagest opposition party might be misleading, because Latvia has one of the lowest party membership rates in the EU, and also the effectiveness of JL as a the viable opposition force could be questioned (though law establishing Mandatory Income and Property Declaration law was passed symbolically prior prominent members left JL).

Journalist Sallija Benfele ( had a perfect blog entry in Latvian about the Phyrric Victory of the Peoples Party (TP) emanating from the split of JL today. There is this electrified feeling of change among commoners in the air, but due to the winter I suspect that the whole enthusiasm of folks would gradually subsume.

It is Saturday morning already and most probably the upcoming weekend would not bring anything new into Latvian politics except already useless reflections (instead of dissecting reasons for lack of civic participation) upon changes dans le parti oppositionaire majeur:) Bon fin de semaine (weekend) a tous!