A political barometer

  • 2002-10-10
The Baltic Times persuaded some typical voters in Latvia to share their thoughts on what the new government would and should bring to the country. We asked the same three questions to a twentysomething Latvian and Russian and a fiftysomething Latvian and Russian.

Ieva Alke, secretary

1. It's more important to me that it be someone who cares about the state more than his own interests. I don't know exactly who that will be. But I think Latvia has had too many people in high places who care more about their own business interests than about Latvia. Maybe it should be a woman. Vaira Vike-Freiberga has done a very good job as president. Sometimes I think Skele would be good because he seems to be a man of action, not just words, but I feel uncomfortable about his business interests and always wonder whether he's working for the state or for his own interest.

2. I'm for joining the EU, without a doubt. I think it will solve a lot of problems here, and it will give people many more job opportunities. It will be easier to work in foreign countries, to gain new experience there, work with specialists, all of which will benefit Latvia.

Also, it will be good for students by making it a lot easier to pursue education. Right now, it can be difficult for Latvians to study in Germany or the Netherlands or to get jobs there because full-time residents of these countries have better chances and get preference. The EU will remove some of these barriers.

Some people are against the EU because they're afraid we will lose out in a globalized world. But I don't think we have to be afraid. I certainly don't think Latvia is going to be overrun by African immigrants or something like we saw in that political advertisement. I'm not so sure Latvia is that attractive a destination for asylum-seekers.

3. One of the most important questions that needs a solution is the situation with pensions. There are a lot of old people struggling. My parents are getting pretty old, and I'm afraid of the future. Their pensions are too small to live on, to buy medicine, and prices will get higher here.

Education should also be a priority. They should make it easier for students to get an affordable education. And health care is important too.

Filips Gostevs, student

1. Actually, I really don't know. None of the candidates who wants the job is very inspiring. I guess I would rather see Jurkans in the job more than anyone else, but that will never happen, so it's not worth waiting for.

2. Mainly, I support Latvia's joining the EU. The biggest reason is that it offers the possibility to work in other countries anywhere within the union.

3. I would like to see a clearer program about how the government intends to get people to take Latvian citizenship.

Also, I want to see not just words but actions about making medicine and education more affordable. Education should really be a priority. The state should spend a lot more on it, on upgrading libraries and universities.

Of course, I wish someone would crack down on corruption, but I think that's impossible. Corruption is too entrenched now.

Aivars Urbans, interior designer

1. The person who won should be - Repse. He won, his party won, he should be. I think he will be a better prime minister than the previous ones, I have no doubts about that.

2. Firstly, I have no great illusions about it. Secondly, we are too poor to remain outside it, if we were a rich country we wouldn't need it. It comes down to a question of where you want your overlords to be sitting - in Brussels or Moscow? And of course we should choose Brussels. Its part of globalization which is going on everywhere and is an unstoppable process.

3. Freeing itself from corruption. But this will be hard to achieve and will require talented leadership. It's at all levels of society, not just in the government, so it may be very tough to do.

Agnia Alekseyenko, accountant

1. Janis Jurkans. He is an experienced politician. When he was in a position of political leadership before he proved to be a very good politician. Repse is a new politician. All new politicians work for their own good and not for the people. They try to make themselves richer.

2. I'm against both NATO and the EU. I don't think there is a threat to Latvia from Russia anymore. Latvia is not a rich enough country to pay the high "membership fees" that it would require. We don't have the money for that.

The EU is even worse. It means the end for small- and medium-sized businesses. They can't comply with EU standards. Only big companies will survive. The situation will be worse for farmers. Other EU countries will start dumping their products on Latvia, which means the end of farming here.

3. Agriculture and the development of Latgale. Present members of Parliament forget that Latvia is not only Riga. Nobody cares about the other regions and there is no plan to develop them. In Latgale many kids don't even go to school because they are too poor. All of Latgale is full of empty naked fields where nothing is growing. That should be changed.