• 2007-11-28
  • Stephan Eberhardt, Riga
In the representative democracy we live in, elected officials assume their positions in the spirit of serving in the best interests of the governance of their country, and when their term is up, they return to private life.
What concerns me about the scandal surrounding Latvia's former president Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the controversial and non-transparent nature of state-funded renovations to her flat, is the fact that the state bought her the flat in the first place.

Enshrined in Latvian law? Subsidized public housing for ex-presidents?
Yes, she did a wonderful and competent job during her administration, thank you, but it's over, so get off the public payroll. Having served the state, in any capacity, is not an entitlement for the state to act as a personal bank account for life.
It's unethical behavior by our elected officials for having legislated such an act, and it's unethical behavior of Vike-Freiberga to have accepted 's she of all people should have had better judgment.
This also sets a dangerous precedent, that of extending benefits to all serving elected members of government, once out of office. These are not the ideals of our society.
President Zatlers in his refreshingly candid Independence Day speech expressed the need to clean up behavior in Latvia, political or otherwise, if we want to reach our potential as a nation. The "clean up" he refers to must start from the top.

In Soviet times Communist party members were the elite of society, but those days are over. The government is here to "serve the people," and this government will have to learn this phrase, and to un-learn the system they grew up in.
These extraordinary sums spent on Vike-Freiberga's extravagances can be better spent on education or social programs, or the money can simply be returned to the taxpayer.

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