Saturday, November 03, 2007

Tautas sapulce

Today is the big public gathering (Tautas Sapulce) in Doms' square to protest against political corruption in Latvia and the present government. Aleks will probably have a first hand report from there when it's over. A few of my colleagues also planned to go there.

I watched it for a while on TV. It was quite impressive. Doms' square looked full and TV reported 8,000-9,000 participiants. It was snowing (Latvia is having first snow this morning) and cold but people were there, mostly under umbrellas, to express their unhappiness with the Latvian government.

It was quite unlike anti-government protests in other countries. Several choirs have come to the protest and short speeches by public figures alternated with collective singing of Latvian songs. It looked very peaceful and, unlike with protests in many other countries, it was absolutely clear that this protest will never turn into a riot. Yet, people were quite resolved and firm that our government must change.

When listening to speeches by opposition politicians, we wondered: will they actually be better? My family has never been Kalvitis' fans. Yet, today they ended up chuckling at the opposition speakers. There is a gap between speaking eloquently about how moneyed interests are having too much influence on Latvian politicians... and actually being able to govern better. Our opposition has a lot of the first skill. But they have not convinced us about the second. And when I see Latvian opinion polls that show New Era (the main opposition party) at 11.2% of public support, despite the unpopularity of Kalvitis' government, I conclude that a lot of Latvians feel the same way.

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