Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Latvian parliament stays on

President Valdis Zatlers spoke to the Latvian nation but failed to dismiss the Saeima (parliament) as he threatened to do unless legislation changing the constitution to allow dissolving the Saeima at the voters' initiative  and other legislation was passed by March 31.
Zatlers gave the "ultimatum" to the  100-member parliament on January 14, the day after a peaceful anti-government rally was followed by rioting. 
The president listed a series of measures taken by the Saeima hitherto that, as I read it, basically said that doing a two-thirds-assed (as opposed to half-assed) job was enough, together with the new government of fall-guy Valdis Dombrovskis, the economic crisis, the talks with the IMF, blah blah - was reason to give the Saeima another chance.
The reaction in internet comments has been pretty harsh. Many are calling Zatlers a wimp. 
My take -- dismissing the Saeima would have merely paved the way for a Chinese-fire-drill-at-monkey house style election. The People's Party (Tautas Partija) would probably have taken a bad hit, but populists, crazies and the politically inexperienced would probably have been elected in a hasty and desperate campaign, left with a nearly impossible task of forming a viable government.
At the same time, it is obvious that no election can prevent Latvia's rapid slide toward economic collapse and state bankruptcy.

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