Lembergs brings ‘experience’ to Green Party ticket

  • 2010-07-07
  • Staff and wire reports

RIGA - The board of the Latvian Green Party at a meeting on July 5 officially nominated Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs as their choice for the next prime minister, reports news agency LETA. Lembergs told reporters afterwards that he has not made a decision yet on whether he will run in the October Saeima elections. “My character may not exactly be suited for parliament work, but more for dynamic state administration,” he proclaimed.

Greens/Farmers Union Chairman Raimonds Vejonis was asked why he was not selected as premier. He replied that his turn would come some day. “But in the current situation, we need a person with great experience and strong vision,” he added.
Asked what he would do as prime minister, Lembergs said that first he would take a look at the “confidential agreements with the international lenders.”

This has been a typical reply by Lembergs, the other so-called oligarchs and leading politicians in Latvia, though none have actually said what they would do next, after “reviewing the confidential agreements.” Considering the sad state of government coffers, Latvia has little option except to work with the IMF and EU on the 7.5 billion euro bailout package to support its ailing economy. Otherwise, the government would have to make much more severe spending cuts, and tax increases, than it already has to balance the budget.

Public debt markets are all but closed to Latvia. The budget is in large deficit and investors are unwilling to risk their money by buying Latvian government bonds.
Mayor Lembergs exhibits either a lack of understanding of how government finance works, or an unwillingness to speak honestly to the Latvian public about his budget plans and how he expects to rectify Latvia’s finances.
Nonetheless, the Green Party’s political partner, the Latvian Farmers’ Union, has already nominated Lembergs as their choice for prime minister.

Augusts Brigmanis, the head of the Greens and Farmers Union Saeima group, said in June that he sees 20 parliament seats after the October elections without Lembergs on the ticket, but if Lembergs joins the ticket, they will control 30 seats. “It would be odd with these 30 seats to be in opposition ranks, but the winner is not always the one with the most votes,” he said.

Topping the Greens and Farmers Union ticket in all regions will be “new faces on the political scene, with European education and modern thinking.” The following party veterans will be the “locomotives” - General Juris Vectirans, MP Ingmars Lidaka in Vidzeme, MP Viktors Scerbatihs in Latgale.

According to a Latvijas fakti poll conducted last month, Harmony Center was on top of the political party ratings with 18.5 percent support. Unity was in second with 16.2 percent, and in third place was the Greens/Farmers Union, showing a strong jump from 9.5 percent in May, to 11.3 percent in June. Latvijas fakti Director Aigars Freimanis connects the Greens/Farmers’ climb to a “certain phenomenon; that is, in a crisis situation they stand to gain because they behave like a conservative force. It has always been a party in the background, setting no agendas, an ideal partner to one and all.” The “Aivars Lembergs-factor” is the other key to success for the Greens/Farmers, Freimanis suggests.

Included for the first time in the poll are the new political unions For A Good Latvia (People’s Party and Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way coalition) and the National Association (All For Latvia and For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK). Support for the latter was at 4.4 percent, for the former, 5.3 percent.

Fighting for survival, in Freimanis’ view, is For Human Rights In A United Latvia, struggling with 2.7 percent.