RIGA - Former Regional Development and Local Government Affairs Minister Edgars Zalans believes that Latvia’s politics can currently be described as “neo-Brezhnevism,” a standstill, where the leading parties do not have new offers and there are no new remarkable leaders, reports LETA.
This is the reason why the leading parties want to cooperate with regional parties ahead of the next Saeima elections, Zalans claims in an interview with LETA.
Zalans is currently a chief consultant with the Rural Development Group, which deals with various investment projects. He has also been elected to the Council of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Zalans advises Kuldiga Town Council Chairwoman Inga Berzina and also works at the ‘Populares Latvija’ think tank.
Oddly, a part of Latvian society is not satisfied with the government’s actions and living standards in Latvia. However, these people are still fond of Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis. “I do not have anything against Dombrovskis, but it is strange that people apparently do not associate political leaders with government actions that society is not happy with,” says Zalans.
According to him, new regional parties were founded before this year’s local government elections due to “a political dead end.” He believes that, besides the Greens/Farmers, there are no other parties interested in the regions at the national level. The leading parties are busy with the introduction of the euro and Latvia’s ‘success story.’ Local governments are the ones to deal with residents’ actual problems. Therefore, residents have more trust in local parties’ promises, which are based on municipal budget possibilities, explains Zalans.
Businessman and controversial former politician Ainars Slesers, sensing an opportunity due to the apparent lack of top-down government initiative, in July said “I do not believe that those currently in power in Latvia will be able to prepare a suitable vision for the 2014 autumn elections. This is why I have been considering the possibility of returning to politics.”
“At least 300,000 people have left and [more] will continue to leave. […] We will soon have a serious shortage of people who work and pay taxes,” he said in an interview to Diena on the need for action, though failing to mention that many left the country while he was heavily involved in state and local politics.
Sleser’s latest idea: “Residence permits should be issued not only to those people who invest in real estate, but also to every foreign student who studies in Latvia. It might be possible to attract 100,000 potential students and investors within five years. This could bring Latvia ‘investment’ worth 20 billion euros. 30,000 people would relocate to Latvia for life!”
Students, however, aren’t usually associated with large investors. He presents an old idea, too: “Another solution would be to attract a cheap workforce.”
Putting things into perspective, Slesers adds: “The more private investments that come to Latvia, the more independent we will be. These 20 billion euros would be a bigger addition to the budget than the current offers of Brussels are. We need to finally accept the fact that European funds are here today, but there will be none tomorrow.”