Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On hopes and fears

Over the last months, Latvia has witnessed a rising tide of opposition to the present government. The protest against the government's attempt to fire Loskutovs and Tautas Sapulce were two manifestations of that. 7000 signatures in favour of a referendum on early elections is another. Eventually, this tide may sweep away the current coalition.

When I think of that, I'm sometimes hopeful and sometimes skeptical. In my previous post, I expressed the hopeful side. This post is about the skeptical one.

So... assume that Latvia has a new government. Not just the present coalition with a few different ministers (which we'll get in a few weeks). A government whose core consists of parties and people not represented in the current one (New Era Party and whatever else may form out of the present political storm). There are two ways how it could go wrong.

First, the new government may have the same problems as the old one. As Loskutovs-lead KNAB recently revealed, 11 members of Latvian parliament are either employing their relatives as aides or using their housing allowances to rent from relatives... quite possibly, at more than the market rate! Well, before Loskutovs was crowned as the anti-corruption hero by public, he had his own scandal with giving pay raises to his girlfriend who was also his subordinate at KNAB. Scandals of this type are not restricted to the present coalition and its supporters.

Second, they may be just a bit too eager to fight the corruption, at the cost of neglecting other issues. This charge has been repeatedly thrown at New Era Party and its appointees. Aivars Lembergs, the troubled mayor of Ventspils, has his famous battle with Ojars Grinbergs, New Era's appointee to the board of Ventspils Nafta oil transit company. Lembergs characterized Grinbergs as totally uninterested in doing anything to run the company. He was there just to fight Lembergs, not to do anything boring that might actually make the company function better. Now, do I really want my country to run by people like that?

One or the other of those two concerns have kept me from supporting New Era Party most of the time. I still have to form my opinion about the Å tokenbergs-lead "Cita Politika" (Different politics) organization.

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