Latvija in brief - 2011-06-09

  • 2011-06-08

On June 2, Saeima elected ex-banker Andris Berzins and junior member of the oligarch club as new president of Latvia in a second round runoff vote. Berzins was elected with 53 votes to 44, reports the Latvian Institute. Latvian president-elect Berzins feels like a president of Saeima elected by the nation and promises not to be led by any oligarchs. “If anybody expects that I will be led by anybody, any oligarch or anything like that, don’t even expect that from me,” he underscored. The president-elect said that he, possibly, will do more than provided by the Constitution, but will not do anything that is in contradiction with the legislation and the interests of the Latvian state. He said that real action is necessary to improve the rule-of-law in the country. In his opinion, the legislative base has to be improved and the judicial system has to be strengthened.

Fifty-nine percent of Latvian residents would be happier if politicians were more honest, according to the latest DnB Nord Latvijas barometrs survey, reports Thirty-seven percent pointed out that their attitude would become more positive if Latvia did not have to repay the international loan. Twenty-two percent would rejoice if oil was discovered in Latvia. However, 4 percent pointed out that nothing will ever cheer up Latvian residents. Fifty-nine percent noted that the existing pessimism is caused by the lack of anything good in Latvia, while 35 percent said that media contribute to this by reporting only about negative developments, even if there are positive ones as well. The respondents mentioned several negative qualities that Latvian residents should try to combat - greed (23 percent), jealousy and envy (23 percent), and laziness (16 percent). The study was carried out from April 8 to April 25; altogether, 1,014 residents ages 18 to 74 were interviewed.

Before Saeima’s vote on a new president, both presidential candidates - current President Valdis Zatlers and president-elect MP Andris Berzins - announced during a debate on Latvian Radio on May 31 that they are ready to propose amendments to the Constitution to lift immunity for Saeima members facing criminal charges, reports LETA. Currently, Article 29 of the Constitution stipulates that Saeima members may not be arrested or searched, and their personal liberty may not be restricted in any way without consent from Saeima. In addition, according to Article 30, prosecution may not be initiated against Saeima members, and administrative penalty may not be imposed on them without consent from Saeima. Berzins believes that, in order to combat corruption and oligarchs’ influence, employees at state institutions should receive higher wages, so that they work honestly and reasonably. Berzins promised that if he is elected and finds out about crimes committed by influential people, he will act “immediately and accordingly.”