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Tuesday 24.10.2017 | Name days: Renāte, Modrīte, Mudrīte
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Municipal elections 2017: what do people say?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUWith municipal elections gradually coming close, BNN offers a compilation of opinions provided by experts from different industries. Short answers consist of thoughts about specific municipalities that affect respondents directly, and municipal administrations in general – what people expect from officials and what changes they expect from elections.

Nikolajs Puzikovs: «We cannot afford to be indifferent. Everyone should vote. As a musician, I will say we shouldn’t get involved in politics.» Puzikovs notes that among Latvian musicians there are examples of artists being punished for performing at one or the other concert if Latvia politicians oppose some system. «Speaking of changes, I definitely believe in them, because after working in the police for eight years, I see how things are done and everything progresses forward. But I will say this again – everyone should go and vote.»

Rihards Snikos: Latvia’s Paralympic equestrian who won 5th place in last year’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, says: «First of all, these will be different municipal elections. I would even say these will be municipal elections of social networks. While social networks did not play a big role in the past, the situation has changed drastically this year – people comment, criticize and praise parties on social networks. Also people are not as stupid as they once were. Populism is no longer felt all that much and officials have stopped promising impossible things.»

As for Riga and Harmony, Snikus says major changes are expected for the top, because «such open theft, scandals and criminal acts noted in Riga are not found anywhere else». «I think voters will look back at the past four years and demand changes. I expect more openness. Still, everyone should start with themselves. We should think of ways we can change ourselves, not moan about thing we don’t like. This is an approach I would recommend going into elections.»

Martins Karnitis: Latvian activist, who has been fighting for years to ensure adaptation of infrastructure in Old Riga for the needs of disabled people, believes there is a lack of fulfilled promises. «Harmony will likely stay in power in Riga and right-wing parties will likely fail to accomplish anything. Still, it is possible we will see some changes in the government after municipal elections. Unity might have worse results. This could bring changes to the country.»

Davis Dudelis: BmX freestyle rider Davis Dudelis is from Marupe. He is very positive about municipal elections in his home municipality. He says he wants to see new leaders of Marupe municipality to continue efficient work on the city’s multi-sided development. «I think everything is fine; we just need to continue at the same pace. I don’t see any major topical problems in Marupe.»

Liga Mezecka: lawyer Liga Mezecka notes that many parties lack a clear vision for the next four years. She says all they do is repeat the things people have already heard. «I expect positive changes in corruption prevention, as well as reduction of gambling halls and pawn shops in Riga. I believe in change, as long as parties don’t use donations from oligarchs to achieve their goals, which is something we see especially in Riga City Council. It can be called legal corruption.»

Rolands Landsbergs, who is in charge of Boxetti grupp OU, is strict about the outcome of the upcoming elections: «For us as a company, there is no difference for municipalities. The most we expect from the government is giving us roads with asphalt cover.»

As a representative of the business sector, Landsbergs asks a rhetorical question: «What can businesses expect?» There are companies that participate in municipal procurement procedures – the outcome in elections is important to them.

When asked if he believes in changes, Landsbergs says: «I don’t believe in anything.» He adds that the only changes worth considering are the ones people can create on their own. «In my twenty years in business I have understood that we have no way to affect the tax system or change the country, because that would halt work. This is the reason why we have decided to relocate our company to Estonia.»

Landsbergs says in conclusion: «State and municipal institutions have two times too many workers. Reforms cannot be realized if officials don’t oppose their associates at work. It is not popular and we will not accomplish a thing otherwise.»

Ieva Brante, who is an independent lawyer and an active citizen, said she has yet to look at the full list of candidates in Riga. «So I can only comment on mayoral candidates, parties’ slogans and promises,» she says.

She says that all parties starting in Latvia have one slogan: ‘Topple Usakovs!’, ‘No more corruption!’, ‘Stop robbing the municipality!’. Slogans are true. It is worth pointing out that Riga has never been robbed to such an extent. But no opposition party in Riga offers no plans for the future. It is clear Usakovs’ policy in Riga cannot be allowed to continue and it is important to end Kremlin’s success story. Parties that wish to take over in Riga lack any constructive solutions. Something more than just ‘Topple Usakovs!’ is needed, Brante told BNN.

Raitis Henins, head of Kekava Evangelical Lutheran community and chief of business park Ganību dambis, is optimistic about elections. «My faith is bigger than it was before, because there is a greater degree of choice and the number of energetic people that have applied for participation.»

As the church’s representative, Henins mentions that communication with the previous municipal administration was lacking in matters associated with the church. «Matters related to the community simply remained unresolved. If you call that optimism, I would say it is what it is. I don’t expect things to get worse,» Henins adds.

Inita Lazare, senior nurse of Tukums Hospital, about observations in healthcare: ‘I believe the matter that remains untouched is healthcare for residents at their homes.’

Healthcare representative says: «I would say this could be a new niche to include state-funded services, at least partial, so that people have some place to go.» When asked if she believes in promises given by parties, Lazare said: «It is hard for me to predict what promises could be given, because we’ve seen promises that have been realized».

She added that people should listen and think for themselves. «I believe we should change,» Lazare says.

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