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Monday 18.12.2017 | Name days: Klinta, Kristaps, Kristofers, Krists
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LAR: latest data suggests proportion of our supporters has reached 11% and continues to grow

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe time of elections draws ever closer and less and less time remains for residents to make up their minds and choose Latvia’s future for the next four years. Who is worth voting for? Familiar faces or new and unknown ones? How to assess their work, experience and abilities?

It is generally believes that regional leaders are the ones with the most experience and reputation in doing things and getting results, as having unfulfilled promises. Latvian Association of Regions has one of the largest numbers of regional leaders, so it would be foolish to call this party a miniature one.

As LAR member Dainis Liepiņš noted in an interview to BNN, the party has nearly 3,000 members. 220 of them are deputies in municipalities. On top of that, there is no longer any doubt the party will overcome the 5% barrier. The desire to ignore this is merely pre-election competition and an attempt to weaken competition, says Liepiņš.

How would you describe preparations for the 12th Saeima elections? What was the pre-election campaign like prior to elections? Does it seem like parties are now more focused on trying to ruin each other’s reputation and less on their pre-election campaigns?

Attempts to blacken other parties’ reputation have been present in previous elections as well. It has always existed. It is more of a tradition nowadays. It should be noted that this factor should be viewed differently. First of all, such attempts often operate on half-truths and blatant lies, which is a criminal offence. Secondly, information leaks are also a factor to consider, as they usually reveal uncomfortable facts about the party or its members.

If there are facts that compromise politicians, they have no one else to blame but themselves. Using someone’s family and children is a different case altogether – such actions are low.

How would you describe Harmony’s activity in regard to the sale of Citadele Bank? Why now?

In regard to the sale of Citadele Bank – it has two sides. On the one side, if the government has taken this responsibility, the bank needs to be sold with respect to strategic state security matters – who the bank is being sold to, who are the investors.

Unfortunately, the government has a high degree of secrecy. It is especially notable because lately some light has been shed on areas that remain in secret completely unnecessarily. This, unfortunately, only increases the level of distrust residents have towards the government. People are not stupid.

I consider myself a practical person and I believe investors have fooled the government. There are all kinds of discrepancies that stick out like a sore thumb. Information regarding the price of the bank is not kept secret, because sooner or later it will become known. There are, of course, different nuisances related to the fact that the bank’s investor will have to invest money in the bank. However, considering Citadele had earned EUR 15 million last year and EUR 30 million this year, the price it is being sold for seems completely inadequate. It is also worth remembering that only 75% of the bank’s shares (owned by the government) are being sold, not 100%. Therefore, the amount the government will receive is not the promised EUR 98.67 million, but EUR 74 million. If there is no trick to this deal, then this is an unsuccessful deal, both financially and emotionally.

What are the main differences of LAR’s pre-election advertisements in comparison with those of other parties? What are your party’s main advantages?

It was possible to observe differences of LAR’s campaign during the European Parliament elections, which proved that a party can receive 2.5% of support without enormous financial support.

The less positive side is that it is hard to plan the progress of the advertisement campaign without clear and predictable funding. One good thing is that the closer October 4th is, the more interest there is from voters, potential members and sponsors.

How are we different? We don’t have to lie and tell half-truths left and right. Our members have years of experience in business, municipalities – things that cannot be replaced with populism of political one-shots. We support free speech. Even if we are wrong about some things, we are always prepared to discuss in order to find the right way.

We are an organization without subtext. Our work is based on regional experience. Our goal is to accomplish equal growth in Latvia. We do not have white knights, we have stable foundations. We have people whose work can be assessed. We do not use words that are used by investors to hide behind. We do our jobs in a way that allows us to look our neighbours in the eye without shame.

There are several matters that usually cause voters to worry. One factor of concern is that they fear their votes will fade into nothing. This also touches the question whether or not the party will be able to overcome the 5% barrier. How would you describe the party’s chances?

LAR will definitely overcome this barrier. I had announced in my yesterday’s interview to Latvijas Radio 1 that LAR’s rating is currently 11% and that we continue to grow! Parties in power spread rumours in order to weaken competition, saying that we are a small party. We have nearly 3,000 members, 200 of them are municipal deputies. I don’t not think there is a single other party out there that can say the same. Attempts to make us seem as though a small party are all part of the pre-election competition.

LAR will have representatives in the parliament and the government. LAR sees very well the current attempts to secure growth and development. For example, there are only 30 municipalities at the moment that have a stable funding plan for the next seven years – 4.5 thousand per capita. Meanwhile, 89 municipalities or 624,000 residents of municipalities will gain only EUR 160 per capita. What can we say to teenagers and entrepreneurs in Mersrags about their future? This basically provides them an open path to the nearest airport. This applies to national security as well, especially considering employ territories near the borders. It is a signal for us to think and think quickly, because it may be too late tomorrow.

Although there are all kinds of people in the parties in power, many of them come from an age long since passed – Soviet-mindset people, who instinctively serve their own interests and often put their relatives and friends on high posts. A good example would be Jelgava. Although the attraction of European funds in high, this city has one of the lowest averages wages in the country.

Coming back to the topic of small parties, a number of research attempts have been carried out in regard to the formation process of political parties. Results suggest it is unfair to look down on small-parties. Parties in power should look at the formation process of different parties and what accomplishments they state in their programmes. It is as though a political healthiness test – how many people have noticed that something is wrong.

If LAR enters the Saeima, which parties will you cooperate with and form a coalition?

The coalition can be formed with the current parties in power – Unity, Union of Greens and Farmers, National Alliance – and us. We will not work with Harmony and Union of Latvian Russians, who continue their hatred-filled politics. Just because you’ve learned Latvian language does not mean you respect this country. Leaders of these parties are definitely not the ones who would sit in trenches if such a need arises. It is pathetic to watch Latvians who actually support their policy.

In regard to the coalition, it is hard to predict the end result. However, it is important to balance ambitions and think about the whole country. If it we do not, the ones to suffer the most will be residents of regions, pensioners and teachers.

There are rumours that Harmony and Inguna Sudraba’s No Sirds Latvijai party may unite and cooperate with one another if they are elected in the Saeima? What is your opinion on this?

It is only a theory at the moment, but it is nonetheless important to look at it from a broader perspective. There are some people on the list of Sudraba’s list of candidates who are not at all shy to change their principles due to economic considerations. I have some justified concerns that Sudraba’s image will be used only until October 4th, unless she does what the party is expected to do. Unfortunately, it does not seem like Sudraba is in charge of this ship. I am sad for the people who will likely be tricked by this.

At the same time it is worth adding that even in the three years Sudraba worked as the State Auditor, she failed to find a way to show up and assess the work of those in charge of Jelgava municipality, which is something that was done by Sudraba’s replacement Elita Krumina. I doubt Sudraba’s ability to honestly inspect anything.

There are rumours behind the scenes that sponsors of Sudraba’s party may be the people who have ties with UGF and United for Latvia, and that the possible coalition could be HC+UGF+Sudraba’s party. Theoretically speaking, I can see such a possibility, because there are people in UGF who were once members of the Soviet nomenclature and who had often made decisions based on profitability, not the interests of regions.

A public survey ordered by LAR was published recently. Unfortunately, it did not gain a lot of popularity in the media. How would you explain this?

It was likely because of the pre-election period and that it is not good to advertise some surveys without keeping in mind that there are also other competitors. It is also easier for parties to manipulate results of surveys in their favour. There are agencies that compile prettier surveys by compiling mystic criteria and ask ‘prettier’ questions. It is also worth looking at the people that are invited to take part in discussions, or the inability of TV3 to pronounce the name of our party, instead only mentioning the Regional Alliance.

LAR has already exceeded the 5% barrier, which is something the parties in power do not like very much. It shows unwillingness to recognize partners. If we are to work as four, we need to explain this to the population. It is a game, a part of dirty politics. There are no completely independent rating compilers. The best rating we can hope for lies in the views of the people. Our people enjoy it every day.

***

Latvian Association of Regions starts on the 12th Saeima elections with candidate list Nr 8. The party has a total of 115 candidates.

Among them are LAR Chairman Mārtiņš Bondars, deputy director of the Emergency Medical Service Mārtiņš Šics, actor Arturs (Artuss) Kaimiņš of the Latvian National Theatre, Chairwoman of Skrunda Council Nellija Kleinberga and Board member of Meierovics’ Association for Change Juris Viļums.


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