Monday, November 05, 2007

Latvia continues to add chaos to confusion

In the latest in a series on the constitutional goings on in Latvia, I again bring you an annotated version of the information sent out by the European Parliament office in Riga. This whole saga is beginning to really bring Latvia into disrepute and is now causing serious friction here in Brussels.

Latvian President recommends government step down

A series of events has led to several calls for Prime Minister Kalvitis´ ("People´s party", EPP-ED) Cabinet to resign.

1. Contrary to the Cabinet´s request, the Latvian parliament, the Saeima, refused to vote to remove the Head of the Anti-corruption bureau.

2. Two "People´s Party" (EPP-ED) ministers have resigned or been forced resign. Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks resigned and criticised PM Kalvitis´ decision to remove the Anti-corruption head and to expel Regional Development Minister Stokenbergs from the "People´s Party" for sowing disunity.

3. A "Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK" candidate for Economics Minister refused his post due to the turmoil surrounding the Prime Minister´s request to remove the Anti-corruption head A. Loskutovs. Loskutovs has been continuing investigations into widespread "People´s Party" and "First Party/Latvian Way" campaign financing violations that have already been acknowledged by Latvia´s Supreme Court.

4. Veteran "People´s Party" MP Dz. Abikis has recommended Prime Minister Kalvitis resign the premiership and leadership of the party. MEP R. PIKS (EPP-ED) countered that the Prime Minister should continue his work but should more rigorously evaluate important decisions.

5. President Zatlers has recommended that once the 2008 budget is approved this week a new Cabinet should be formed.

6. Currently there are four vacancies in Cabinet positions.

7. "People´s Party" MP V. Paegle, chair of the European Affairs committee, has recommended that "People´s Party" founder Andris Skele resign from the party. Skele, whose wife is the chairman of the party board, is widely presumed by media to be a "power behind the throne" as one of Latvia´s "political oligarchs".

Culminating these events, the largest political protest demonstration since independence took place Saturday. "People´s Party" fraction head M. Kucinskis announced that, "It is only a question of time (until the cabinet will resign)". President Zatlers, in a TV interview this morning, stated that Prime Minister Kalvitis no longer has the trust of the people and should not head the next government.

MEPs Girts KRISTOVSKIS (UEN) and Georgs ANDREJEVS have been prominent critics of recent government decisions. MEP Roberts ZILE (UEN), also chairman of his "Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK" party, has said that "Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK" will not leave the current government.

MEPs Valdis DOMBROVSKIS and Aldis KUSKIS (EPP-ED) represent the opposition "New Era" party and have called for change.

No ruling coalition party politicians have announced a willingness to assume the Prime Minister´s post. Commentator´s speculate that any new leader will have an unenviable task in regaining the public trust. Moreover, the Greens/Farmers" coalition prime ministerial candidate A. Lembergs is still under house arrest on corruption charges, and their recent Speaker of the House, I. Emsis, has been found guilty of providing false testimony to the General Prosecutor´s office and has resigned as an MP.
So fun all round for the Baltic state. Seems like a perfect European partner.

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