Sunday, September 23, 2007

They nominated whom?

Latvia is going to have a new speaker of the parliament. And, if the coalition which has governed Latvia for the last year does not break up in the next 20 hours, it will be Gundars Daudze.

You have never heard of him? Neither have I.

The previous speaker of the parliament, Indulis Emsis, resigned on Friday, after prosecutor's office started a criminal investigation about him giving a false testimony in some Ventspils-related matter. Neither Emsis nor prosecutors are commenting on the matter. (Prosecutor's position is "We do not comment on ongoing investigations". Emsis' position is "I've never given a false testimony, on any matter." In the process, Emsis made a few colourful quotes. One of those was translated to English by Aleks. In another quote, Emsis compared himself to a mouse being chased by a cat.)

Prior to his resignation, Emsis had a long political career. From an enviromental activist in late 1980s, to Minister for Environment in 1990s (he was quite popular in that position) Prime Minister in 2004 and speaker of Saeima in 2006 and 2007 (he was less successful in those positions).

The new nominee is a complete unknown. The Union of Farmers and Greens, the party of Emsis and Daudze, has 18 members of the Latvian parliament. Out of those 18, there are 12 I've heard about before. The party decided to nominate one of the other 6. Daudze has served in the parliament for slightly less than a year and has been a doctor before. Google search turns up a few articles in which he's commenting on medical matters and not much else.

That reminds me of another Latvian doctor, Valdis Zatlers, who went from a complete unknown to President in 7 weeks. Given the mudslinging nature of recent Latvian politics, Latvian political parties are increasingly nominating unknowns for country's top positions, in hope that opposition will find it more difficult to find dirt about a person who has not been in politics for long.

A little more and we'll have an entire government consisting of political unknowns... actually, I already had that feeling in 2004 when Kalvitis' government was announced.

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