Latvia’s economically active residents believe that Harmony Center, Unity and Zatlers’ Reform Party (ZRP) have the greatest chance of being elected to the 11th Saeima this fall, according to a survey carried out by the market, social and media research agency TNS Latvija in cooperation with LNT television, reports LETA. Most residents, 72 percent, are confident that Harmony Center will be elected to the Saeima; 52 percent believe that Unity and ZRP will be elected to the next Saeima. Forty-five percent of respondents said that the Union of Greens and Farmers would also be elected to the next Saeima, and 42 percent named All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK. Eight percent believe that For Human Rights in a United Latvia will also be represented in the next Saeima, and only 1 percent said that some other party would be elected to the 11th Saeima. Sixteen percent had no opinion. The poll was carried out from July 12 to July 14 via the Internet.
Ex-President Valdis Zatlers has established a new organization called Reformu domnica (Reform Think Tank) that is hoped to improve the quality of political expertise and political decisions taken in Latvia, Daiga Holma from the pending Zatlers’ Reform Party, said, reports LETA. In the near future it will be joined by experts in a variety of fields. They will share their know-how and experience to help develop various policy actions and development scenarios. The think tank was established pursuant to Western practice, where each political party has its own functioning center of experts. Think tank members will not be asked to join Zatlers’ party. “Involvement in the political process has various levels in modern civic society, not just the ‘voter-politician’ level. It will be important for the think tank to remain independent. The lack of stable political think tanks in Latvia has been the reason for Latvia’s weakness for a long time,” said Holma.
On July 21, Saeima in the first reading conceptually supported amendments to Saeima’s Rules of Procedure, reports LETA. The amendments, drawn up by the Legal Affairs Committee, foresee the abandonment of the secret ballot in plenary votes on almost all official posts. Therefore, Saeima could elect the auditor general, justices, Constitutional Protection Bureau chief, attorney-general, Corruption Prevention Bureau chief, Central Election Commission chief and other state officials by open vote. Secret ballot will be retained when electing the president and Supreme Court chief justice. The draft bill provides for an open vote with the electronic vote-counting device, or with voting cards, but in cases stipulated by the Constitution, the vote will be closed. It is not clear yet how the members of parliament will choose, for example, the president of the Bank of Latvia by open vote, if there are several candidates for the position. If the first candidate is elected, there will be no point in voting for the others.