Monday, March 22, 2010

A happy turn in Ziggy's grave? Not really...

With some glaring mistakes corrected.

Sorry about the flippant and irreverant reference to a true Latvian national hero, the nation's first foreign minister, Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics, who earned de facto and de jure recognition for the young and beleaguered Republic of Latvia. Sarmite Elerte, the former editor-in-chief of Diena, the national daily sold last year to the British Rowland family, has started an organization called the Meierovics' Society for Progressive Change, gathering many Latvian intellectuals and semi-celebrities. The aims are well-meaning and, indeed, Zigfrīds (Ziggy starts to sound wrong) can turn to the other side in his resting place with a little more confidence that all is not lost and he is at least well remembered.
However, this looks like yet another society for the betterment of all that is somewhat removed from the realities and depravity of political life in Latvia. Even as the ink was drying on the new organization's founding documents, Riga mayor Nils Ušakovs was telling reporters that around LVL 1 million had been embezzled or otherwise vanished from the accounts of the bankrupt municipally-owned health insurer RSK. Par for the course in Latvia, where stealing from the Children's Hospital came as naturally as breathing for some folks.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons (if the above doesn't suffice) for other kinds of turning in the grave, should anyone care to... Current ministers, instead of heros, have a talent for being buffoons, such as outgoing Minister of Justice (not Interior, my mistake) Mareks Segliņš, who handed in his resignation from the post of Minister of Heath. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis kindly asked Mareks to get it together and resubmit a proper resignation. It is not known whether Minister of Health Baiba Rozentāle resigned from the Justice Ministry. Four ministers, all from the Peoples' Party (Tautas Partija/TP) have left the government after the party leader Andris Šķēle ordered his people into opposition.
Dombrovskis of the New Era (Jaunais Laiks/JL) is holding together a minority government that may bumble along until the elections. Whoever has the misfortune of winning that contest is going to face cutting at least another LVL 500 million from the state budget, something that is unlikely to happen without drastic cuts in pensions and other already meager entitlements.
Unfortunately, despite whatever well-meaning organizations with nice people that are set up, the country has been pushed past a number of tipping points, and I see no other possible future for Latvia except as a stagnant, corrupt, hapless and hopeless, increasingly depopulated territory on the margins of the European Union. At least for the rest of the decade. For that, we have the political elite and our tolerance of it to thank.


Anonymous said...

First of all you are not better than Segliņš because he was a Minister of Justice not Interior. Minister of Interior is still Linda Mūrniece.
Secondly we can judge society just after they start to do something. If one speak before actual work is started then one is not better than our politics.
Third point is that Latvia is going to be what people in Latvia will be. If we will be corrupt, hopeless and hapless then there wount be chance. But there is other way for us to behave =)

Wannabe Sorosieši said...

Decidedly and deservedly cynical Jūri. I have no real evidence to support it, but I hope that you are wrong. My little insider info on Meierovica is that there are ground level people who know what it is to work day-to-day and in the dirt with our failed politicians and (from my perspective more importantly) civil servants and govt culture. I hope that it is enough.

Anonymous said...

Correct if things go along as they did so far. But people recognize that something has to change otherwise there wouldn't be frustration with everything. So there is hope, but my hope is that this hope in people is not pie in the sky that something will change without them contributing towards that change. I hope everyone has a good plan and that they are commited to execute it...small changes in citizens a, b, and c lifes make a huge change in face of the country. You know after 20 years of independence one should realize that bashing and expecting from politicians is not making any difference, just let them do their business and we'll do ours. Imagine if all of us would be as savvy and bold as them, we certainly wouldn't have abuse from top...but that's just my dream. Regrettably latvians have this sado mazo gene in them where they are attracted to abuse and don't know any better and are proud of it. You suck latvians! I hope this will work as catalyst to prove me wrong. Or run in corner to complain and get your pie in the sky again...

Miks said...

There may be something of the Village Green Preservation Society about it, but it's better than nothing.
At least some people who think of themselves as politicos but have never actually run for office are edging closer to putting their reputations where their mouths are, even if mixed in among them are some of the same old farts who've been pontificating for years from cosy sinecures.
Of course ultimately this comes down to the limited pool of 'talent' that seems to be available. Until we get some dynamic new Latvians stepping up to the plate, maybe after returning home from abroad.