• 2004-03-11
Two theories dominate as to why Indulis Emsis was able to unite a motley group of parliamentarians from the left and right and thus form a government coalition - albeit a minority one.

The first one is that he is a compromise figure, a steady hand plucked from the Green Party who will guide Latvia through accession to NATO and the European Union. The second, darker theory is that Emsis represents an oligarchic revival, as some of the country's most influential and deep-pocketed businessmen undertake a desperate attempt to seize what few state-held assets remain. For some, this second hypothesis even goes so far as to allow the possibility of a Russian revanche in Latvia, a claim buttressed by communist Alfreds Rubiks' statement that the leftists, many of whom are allegedly financed from Moscow, now have Emsis "on a hook."
Which theory holds more truth? Perhaps it is too early to say, but for now there is one strong reason as to why the first seems more credible: President Vaira Vike-Freiberga. Let us not forget that it was she who nominated Emsis, so anyone who claims - such as former PM Einars Repse - that the new PM was placed in power to rule over an insider asset-distribution is essentially accusing the president of one and the same. Vike-Freiberga, after all, has advisers as good as anybody in Latvia, and she is quite keen not only to what is taking place behind the scenes but who has what ulterior motives. We do not think that the president is naive and believe that she made her decision on the basis of complete information (or as complete as anyone can hope for).
Indeed, Vike-Freiberga, an individual rightfully obsessed with seeing that Latvia become an integral member of NATO and the European Union - namely the two goals that have driven national policy over the past 12 years - selected Emsis so that he would complete the accession processes and ensure that the Baltic state become part of Western civilization de facto. (Understandably, Vike-Freiberga probably looks at what is taking place in Lithuania with horror, and she is prepared to do everything possible so that Latvia doesn't sink in a constitutional crisis exactly when it is scheduled to join Europe.) Should he falter, one would expect the president to be his first critic.
Still, it is a shame that the country's most popular political force, New Era, has been boxed into the opposition. Part of the blame, of course, lies with the party itself, as it could have saved the day by pulling off its 11th-hour maneuver -proposing the less controversial Krisjanis Karins for the PM spot - a week earlier. At it is, the party was too late.
The one encouraging surprise: the public was treated to an impromptu dance by Mr. Repse in Parliament. The outgoing PM wanted to show, with full emphasis, that he does not carry a gun. Though he proved his point, we get the feeling that he will soon return to the halls of power - fully packed.