The do-nothing party

  • 2011-08-31
  • Staff and wire reports

Some Saeima members are missing in action.

RIGA - The TV3 broadcast show ‘Neka personiga’ (Nothing Personal) has studied Saeima member voting records and has concluded that Harmony Center was the least active party during the 10th Saeima, reports LETA. Harmony Center’s parliament leader, and one of the party’s candidates for prime minister, Janis Urbanovics, did not participate in 653 votes, which is significantly more than the second closest non-active member - independent Saeima member Visvaldis Lacis - with 238 votes missing.

In looking at how Saeima members shirked their duties in not showing up for work or not governing the country, Harmony Center members, in total, did not vote on 4,888 occasions. In effect, they took no position on these issues. For a Good Latvia members abstained on 1,659 occasions; Unity on 1,497 occasions; Union of Greens and Farmers on 1,440 occasions. All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (VL-TB/LNNK) was the most active party during the 10th Saeima, with only 370 cases of non-voting.

‘Neka personiga’ has established that Harmony Center’s members actively voted only on state funding, citizenship and migration affairs, victims of Communist and Nazi regimes, holidays and remembrance days, municipal powers, custody courts, amendments to the Criminal Process, Civil Process and Administrative Violations Code, television and radio, transportation and construction. The party’s members also supported Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Raimonds Vejonis (Union of Greens and Farmers) during a vote of no confidence against him, and voted down, not surprisingly, a request from the Corruption Prevention Bureau (CPB) to authorize a search of Saeima Member Ainars Slesers’ (For a Good Latvia) home.

Urbanovics says he was “surprised” at the study’s results and “promised to take a closer look” into it.
Voters seem to be unaware of the activities, or in this case inactivity, of their elected officials. In a recent survey carried out by the market, social and media research company TNS Latvia and the LNT television channel, about 30 percent of the economically active population between the ages of 18 and 55 have expressed support for Harmony Center’s nominated prime minister candidates Nils Usakovs or Janis Urbanovics. The biggest support for Harmony Center’s candidates was among residents of Riga and non-residents.

Nineteen percent of the economically active populace would like to see Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity) continue as the next PM, while 18 percent of residents support Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs, who is nominated by the Greens/Farmers Union and is currently under investigation on numerous criminal charges.
Only six percent of the populace would like to see Gaidis Berzins, nominated by All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK, Zatlers Reform Party’s Edmunds Sprudzs or Ainars Slesers from Slesers’ Reform Party/LPP/LC as the next prime minister.

A small part of the economically active population would like to see other candidates as the next PM. Two percent would not want any of the nominated candidates to take the post, while 19 percent of the questioned had no opinion.
The survey was carried out from Aug. 16 to Aug. 18 via the Internet; altogether, 600 economically-active Latvian residents aged 18 to 55 were interviewed.

Whether former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s dictum that “It’s the economy, stupid” impacts the election results this month remains to be seen as Latvia continues its climb out of the world’s worst recession. So far the voters have been sticking with the tried and true, steady hands of Dombrovskis at the helm.
Even though the general assessment of Latvia’s development slightly improved this past June, 71 percent of residents still believe that the country is developing “in the wrong direction,” according to the latest ‘DnB Nord Latvijas barometrs’ survey. Just thirteen percent of respondents said in June that the country is developing in the right direction, a two percent increase on May.

Sixteen percent had difficulty in assessing Latvia’s development.
At the same time, 34 percent of residents believe that the current economic situation in the country is “extremely bad.” Forty-five percent pointed out that it is “bad,” 18 percent said average, and two percent said good. Another two percent had no opinion.

Thirty-eight percent also said that the situation in Latvia’s economy continues to deteriorate, 48 percent pointed out that it remains unchanged, nine percent mentioned that it improves, and five percent could not or did not wish to provide their assessment.

Residents are also pessimistic about the situation in Latvia’s economy one year ahead. Six percent believe that it will become significantly worse, 24 percent said that it will probably deteriorate, 37 percent remain unchanged in their opinion, 20 percent called for it to slightly improve, and only one percent predicted significant improvements.

This survey was carried out from June 10 to June 22; altogether, 1,000 residents aged 18 to 74 were interviewed.