• 2007-10-31
  • John Barnsley, Vilnius
This letter is in response to Mr Slade's letter dated October 24th [TBT #579, vol.10].
An old joke recalls a person who managed to escape the old USSR and emigrate to Israel. When he arrived a reporter asked him, "So, was it that bad there? How were local services?"
And the answer comes, "Can't complain."
"Were medical supplies sufficient?" 's  "Can't complain."
"Was there enough food for everyone?" 's "Can't complain."
The puzzled reporter then asks, "If everything was fine there, why did you emigrate?"
The man looks around and answers, "Because here I CAN complain."

In the Latvian and Lithuanian language news portals, thousands of comments from readers are posted every day. Most of them are angry, some even hateful towards their own government and its inability to translate policies and laws into action. Nevertheless, they would still vote the same people into office the next time around with an even lower election participation rate.
The same can be said for the Estonians, though they are less vocal than their Baltic brethren. They know that the choice they have is limited and that the opposition is not much better than the government in office. Once you cast your vote, your ability to effect change is used and you can only hope that whoever is elected will do a better job than the previous bunch.

These problems are inherent to the democratic process. Few are strong and wealthy enough to rise to power and the choice is between powerful and wealthy people who do not really look anything like Jonas Jonaitis (aka John Smith) on the street. I leave you with this positive thought: Things could have been worse 's the Baltic states could have had something similar to the Swiss elections as an extreme reaction.

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