Berzins rejects pre-election populism

  • 2011-08-17
  • Staff and wire reports

RIGA - President Andris Berzins has said that he will support only those initiatives that are agreed upon within the ruling coalition, because he believes that, during these difficult financial times, economic stability can only be achieved by maintaining political stability. In an interview with the newspaper Cas, Berzins says that in analyzing the situation in the global economy, he cannot predict whether there will be a second wave of the crisis. Despite positive trends in the country’s economy, Latvia is still fragile and the next wave of the crisis could have a painful impact, reports news agency LETA.
“We have considerably increased our exports; however, if the crisis develops further, small economies will be the ones to have the hardest time overcoming it. Unfortunately, this is also what global economists and analysts are predicting,” emphasized Berzins.

Indeed, on Aug. 16, the latest report emerged from Germany showing that its economic growth drastically slowed in the second quarter. Germany is a key economic driver for much of Europe, including Latvia.
In order to overcome the next waves of the crisis, Latvia is in dire need of a new Saeima and government, because during difficult financial times, economic stability goes hand in hand with political stability. “I believe that we can achieve political stability,” added the president.

In order to achieve this, Berzins says that he will not give in to pre-election populism. He believes that it is important to fulfill the agreement with the international lenders; however, there will come a time when Latvia will have to seek funding in the public debt markets to refinance the loan on its own. The country cannot keep the umbilical cord connected to the IMF-led group of lenders forever, as some political parties seem to want.

Additionally, if the global situation becomes worse, the loans will become an even heavier burden.
With elections looming, political stability could play a role in how the economic recovery, slow as it now is, continues.
Due to the divided Latvian electorate, split between a multitude of parties, Harmony Center has high chances of winning the 11th Saeima elections. Union of Greens and Farmers’ (ZZS) leader Augusts Brigmanis said in an interview that “the Latvian electorate is divided among the existing parties and the new one; therefore I predict that Harmony Center will win the elections.”

Brigmanis, though, sees good results for his party.
Concerned with the populace’s expressed disgust with the influence of the so-called oligarchs over politics, and his own party’s ties with oligarch Aivars Lembergs, the mayor of Ventspils, Brigmanis says that ZZS is ready to prove that the nation is more concerned about the economic situation in the country and the problems that arise from it. ZZS is the political force that has helped Latvia to solve these issues, he claims.

Commenting on the possible coalition in the next government, Brigmanis declined to mention any potential cooperation partners, but pointed out that ZZS will not cooperate with For Human Rights in a United Latvia (PCTVL), which will most likely not clear the 5 percent threshold anyway, and will not be elected to the 11th Saeima.
Former President Valdis Zatlers’ Reform Party candidate for prime minister, businessman Edmunds Sprudzs, believes that at the moment the main task to achieve is that Latvian residents take pride in living in their country.
Commenting on the Cabinet’s future tasks, Sprudzs pointed out that the government should focus on several economic issues. The tax burden on labor should be reduced to create new jobs. He hopes that in this way people will stop leaving Latvia and instead the country will invite them back.

Sprudzs emphasized that it is necessary to combat the shadow economy, which currently decimates company growth opportunities, and mentioned reforms in the utilization of EU structural funds to achieve fairer distribution of funding and lessen the impact of bureaucracy.

He stressed that ZRP currently has the best demographic policy among all parties. The party resolves to unite Latvia’s society and make sure that people are no longer divided according to their nationality. Emphasis was also put on the importance of reforms in higher education.

On Aug. 12, All for Latvia!-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (VL-TB/LNNK) submitted its election ticket for the 11th Saeima elections to the Central Election Commission. VL-TB/LNNK’s election ticket includes 115 candidates for the five election districts, said party spokesman Arnis Neretnieks.
VL-TB/LNNK board member Einars Cilinskis will top the party’s ticket in the Riga election district. Party co-chairman Raivis Dzintars will lead the party’s ticket in the Vidzeme Province elections district.

Another so-called reform party - Slesers’ Reform Party/LPP/LC - submitted its election ticket on Aug. 15, reported the party’s press secretary Girts Dripe. Slesers’ Reform Party/LPP/LC election ticket includes 115 candidates for the five election districts.

The 11th Saeima elections will be held on Sept. 17. Parties are able to submit their election tickets until Aug. 18.