Chased into the corner

  • 2004-05-20
The move by the New Era Party to go after Latvia's current ruling coalition because it relies on left-wing support - namely, Janis Jurkans' National Harmony Party - with the help of the far-left coalition For Human Rights in a United Latvia merely creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It forces Prime Minister Indulis Emsis further into the embrace of Jurkans to secure the stability of the government.
Then again, perhaps that's what New Era wants in the run-up to the Europarliament elections. In terms of media coverage, at least, the move paid off: Jurkans has appeared on the covers of Russian-language dailies Chas and Vesti and his party has been invited to participate in an ad hoc commission on solving some of society's acutest problems. So now New Era can continue to paint the coalition as left-leaning, even if New Era itself needed help from the far left to shake the foundation underneath the minority coalition.
But as right-of-center parties continue to pump up the rhetoric, they have also set their sights on integration chief Nils Muiznieks. It appears that, despite having placed him in power during former Prime Minister Einars Repse's reign, New Era has a built in hostility to Muiznieks: this is, after all, the second time that the party has sought to oust him.
As the bane of extremists on all sides of the troublesome integration issue, Muiznieks is an easy target. New Era is trying to lay the blame for the escalating societal rift over the education reform on the integration minister. This, however, is so inaccurate and patently false, one wonders why they put the position forward if this was all they could come up with. Usually ministers are sacked because they are either doing too poorly or too well, and with Muiznieks, one of the few Latvians that can appeal to both sides of a complex issue, it is definitely the latter.
It's the wrong time to go after Muiznieks. Shtab, the Headquarters for the Defense of Russian Schools, appears to be growing stronger by the day. The May 1 demonstration was their largest to date, partly due to the government's inability to engage the moderate Lashor (the association of ethnic Russian teachers) in dialogue. If New Era is successful in booting out Muiznieks, it may gain in terms of power, but the end result would be no more than a further escalation of emotion.
New Era came to power on an anticorruption platform, bolstered by a class of young, feisty, if inexperienced political neophytes who promised drastic changes. In what appeared to be the maturing of a democracy, the party not only spoke out against but took on the shadowy oligarchic interests. However, the recent moves by New Era, which hasn't even given the Emsis government the standard 100 days, show that they have not recovered from their last mistake that left them in opposition, and that, in essence, they're more worried about their popularity rating. If they're not careful, they're going to shoot themselves in the foot just as Latvia's Way once did.