RIGA - With Parliament scheduled to examine a proposed law that would increase the penalties for violating campaign finance rules and political advertisements, the Greens and Farmers' Union have added their own proposal.
Political advertising would be banned on radio, television, and in public places 90 days before elections are set to take place in October of this year, according to the Greens and Farmers' proposal. Latvia's First Party, eventually supported the Greens and Farmers, while advocating its own legislation that would bar NGOs from participating in the political process if they receive money from foreign sources (See story same page).
"The last election showed that with a massive campaign, votes were not based on residents' own choices, but because they [during the pre-election period] were inculcated [by campaigns]," First Party faction head Janis Smits told the Baltic News Agency.
Other venues exist to alert and inform the public of political parties' platforms, according to Augusts Brigmanis, parliamentary faction head of the Greens and Farmers' Union.
"This is enough to ensure that voters learn all about a party and its program," he said.
Observers, however, said a three-month prohibition was excessive. While other EU member states have instituted restrictions on pre-election advertising, none have used such a long period.
Limiting pre-election advertising can favor incumbents who are already known to the voter, making it more difficult for new parties to gain a stronger foothold in an election.
During last year's municipal elections, the city of Riga was stunned as the relatively unknown Homeland party came out of nowhere to grab nine seats, second only to New Era.
The Homeland party received a boost by advertising on the Radio Pik radio station.
It wasn't immediately known how the People's Party and New Era would vote concerning the amendments proposed by the Greens and Farmers' Union.